' ' Cinema Romantico: Top 5 Tom Cruise *** Scenes

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Top 5 Tom Cruise *** Scenes

There are several reasons why Tom Cruise is the perfect movie star for our moment, not least of which is how the frequently lamented sexlessness of the modern movie scene perfectly dovetails with the innate sexlessness of Cruise’s persona. The pointed lack of sizzle in his scenes with Jennifer Connelly in “Top Gun: Maverick” was that otherwise superb blockbuster’s millstone as was his inability to truly meet that Vanessa Kirby kiss in “Mission: Impossible – Fallout.” It’s why Cameron Crowe’s smartest screenplay move in “Jerry Maguire” was to make it so that Cruise’s eponymous sports agent and his love interest Dorothy Boyd (Renee Zellweger) weren’t in love, not really, not until the end, while part of what made “Eyes Wide Shut” work was the tension between the sexless Cruise and all the sex around him. This problem, as we noted in our “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One” review, has not so much been corrected as circumvented by writer/director Christopher McQuarrie in their troika of M:I movies in a variety of clever ways, though, to be fair, he is not the first one to skillfully work around this recurring issue. Here, then, is a definitive list from off the top of my head comprising the Top 5 Tom Cruise sex, in a manner of speaking, scenes. Sorry if this makes you uncomfortable.

Mission: Impossible – Fallout. The subtext of the bathroom brawl between Cruise, Henry Cavill, and Liang Yang is virtually text, a dance scene given the pulse-pounding club music just outside as much as a fight, as close as Tom will ever get to Studio 54.

Born on the Fourth of July. The prom dance with Kyra Sedgwick after his run through the rain is the rare Chaste Tom Cruise romantic moment that works because the chasteness is inextricably part of the point, the culmination of All-American innocence before he it is shattered.

Knight and Day. Not one of the Cruise joints people to tend talk about, which I have always found unfortunate, not because it is one of his best movies, per se, but because it does a fun job harnessing the wackadoodle public-facing Cruise persona of the new millennium. This is especially true of the moment when his character Roy leaps off a motorcycle from above and lands on the hood of the car of Cameron Diaz’s June. It’s not a Meet Cute, because they have already met, but has the feel of one, nonetheless, and the certifiable smile on Cruise’s face and in his air suggests sexual yearning in, well, a “There’s Something About Mary” sorta way.

Top Gun. It’s a weird quirk of our present world that the homoerotic undertones of the original “Top Gun” are acknowledged, if not generally accepted and embraced, and yet “Top Gun: Maverick” eschewed having any of its own, as if it were running for President against Ron DeSantis and had to tone it down or else. And that’s unfortunate because a whole new generation of moviegoers (movie streamers) deserved their version of the volleyball scene, and one that was less virtuous team-building exercise, though the volleyball scene was not even the height of the original’s most pertinent romance. 

Look, I don’t mean this as disrespect to Jennifer Connelly, nor to Kelly McGillis, because romantic scenes with Cruise are like advanced calculus for cinema, just as a testament to the man, the myth Val Kilmer, who grasped that the negative charge of Cruise required a positive charge. That’s why in the bar scene, Kilmer palpably invades Cruise’s space, going so hard that he instinctively connects with his co-star’s cocky indifference. And when it does...to quote Bruce Springsteen, “Sparks fly on E Street when the boy prophets walk it handsome and hot.”

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation. Granted, “Mission: Impossible 2” tried this, too, with a car chase between Cruise and Thandiwe Newton’s character as roadway flirtation, though “Rogue Nation’s” motorcycle chase between Cruise and Rebecca Ferguson did it better. It did it better because it was less overt in its connotations if more electrifying in its action, and because Cruise wore that shirt, that shirt up there, getting dressed in his action/adventure best for his rip-roaring spur of the moment social engagement, and because Ferguson pulled the same trick as Kilmer, if in a different way, like a tractor beam, in her cool air just sort of ineffably pulling this unwittingly smitten dude toward her.

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