All of Tom Cruise’s action movies, ranked by critics

Tom Cruise smiles on the left and does a stunt on the right
Tom Cruise in ‘Mission: Impossible.’ Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images for DIFF/Paramount Pictures
  • Tom Cruise has starred in many action movies, but some were more successful than others.
  • He’s been in six “Mission: Impossible” films so far, but critics have mixed feeling about them.
  • Rotten Tomatoes scores show critics loved “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” and hated “Days of Thunder.”

“Days of Thunder” (1990) is one of Cruise’s most poorly received films to date.
Days of Thunder
Tom Cruise in ‘Days of Thunder.’ Paramount
Critics’ Rotten Tomatoes Score: 38%

Synopsis: Two NASCAR rivals become friends when they are both injured in an accident, but then they work toward competing in the Daytona 500. 

“Nothing remotely surprising happens in ‘Days of Thunder,’ which is just the way the filmmakers want it,” Dave Kehr wrote at the Chicago Tribune in 1990. “This is the kind of monstrously overgrown commercial movie (unofficial estimates have placed the budget at $US100 ($AU135) million) that depends entirely on the microscopic pleasures of having one’s most routine expectations fulfilled.”

Tying for Cruise’s most poorly rated action movie is the “Jack Reacher” sequel titled “Never Go Back” (2016).
Tom Cruise and Cobie Smulders in 'Jack Reacher: Never Go Back' crouching next to a car
Tom Cruise and Cobie Smulders in ‘Jack Reacher: Never Go Back.’ Paramount Pictures
Critics’ Rotten Tomatoes Score: 38%

Synopsis: Jack Reacher, played by Cruise, gets called in to investigate another case in which an Army major is accused of treason, launching him on a mission to uncover a government conspiracy.

“‘Jack Reacher: Never Go Back’ is dispiritingly formulaic, retaining much of the first film’s swaggering masculinity, but none of its self-awareness,” David Sims at The Atlantic wrote in 2016.

The action-comedy “Knight and Day” (2010) was a flop.
Cameron Diaz and Tom Cruise in 'Knight and Day,' holding a gun
Cameron Diaz and Tom Cruise in ‘Knight and Day.’ 20th Century Fox
Critics’ Rotten Tomatoes Score: 52%

Synopsis: A woman is thrust into an international chase when she meets a disgraced spy aboard a commercial plane. 

 “It’s not bad DVD entertainment, but as a big summer movie, it’s a bit of a washout,” Peter Bradshaw at The Guardian wrote in 2010.

In “Oblivion” (2013), Cruise plays a repairman in a futuristic world, but the film failed to impress critics.
Tom Cruise in 'Oblivion' holding up a gun
Tom Cruise in ‘Oblivion.’ Universal Pictures
Critics’ Rotten Tomatoes Score: 53%

Synopsis: In 2077, a security repairman is working on an abandoned Earth after a war with aliens. While finishing up his task, he meets a woman who pushes him into a battle to save the devastated planet.

“The film is an amalgam itself scavenged from parts of ‘Total Recall,’ ‘2001: A Space Odyssey,’ ‘Alien’ and even a pinch of ‘Top Gun,’ with Cruise reprising his flyboy moves inside a superfast helicopter thingy,” Anthony Quinn at The Independent wrote in 2013. “As a piece of narrative, though, it’s portentous, sluggish and fatally ungripping.”

“Mission: Impossible II” (2000) is rated slightly lower than the first movie in the franchise.
Tom Cruise in 'Mission: Impossible II' riding a motorcycle with sunglasses
Tom Cruise in ‘Mission: Impossible II.’ Paramount Pictures
Critics’ Rotten Tomatoes Score: 57%

Synopsis: CIA agent Ethan Hunt attempts to capture a deadly German virus before terrorists release it into the world.

“Cruise comes off as fearless and virile, and his fans should not be disappointed in the slightest,” David Hunter at The Hollywood Reporter wrote in 2000.


“Top Gun” (1986) is a cult classic, but not every critic loved it.
Top Gun
Tom Cruise in ‘Top Gun.’ Paramount Pictures
Critics’ Rotten Tomatoes Score: 58%

Synopsis: When a fighter pilot is sent to Top Gun Naval Fighter Weapons School, he clashes with other pilots and vies for the the attention of one of the female instructors. 

“‘Top Gun’ is terribly monotonous,” Kathleen Carroll wrote at The New York Daily News in 1986. “This movie approaches its subject in such juvenile, superficial way that it’s clear the producers were merely in a hurry to cash in on Hollywood’s new wave of Rambo-style patriotism.”

Cruise plays an ex-Army investigator in “Jack Reacher” (2012).
Tom Cruise in 'Jack Reacher' standing in front of red car
Tom Cruise in ‘Jack Reacher.’ Paramount Pictures
Critics’ Rotten Tomatoes Score: 63%

Synopsis: An Army investigator gets called into a small town after a former sniper is accused of killing five people. Based on the Lee Child’s “Jack Reacher” books.

“Cruise’s performance as the title character provides the necessary intelligence, strength, and physical confidence to drive the film,” Louis Black at the Austin Chronicle wrote in 2012. “Ultimately, the film rises and falls on Cruise’s aggressively magnetic performance.”


“Mission: Impossible” (1996) began the popular franchise, but some critics weren’t impressed.
Tom cruise sitting in a chair in 'Mission: Impossible.'
Tom Cruise in ‘Mission: Impossible.’ Paramount Pictures
Critics’ Rotten Tomatoes Score: 66%

Synopsis: A CIA agent is wrongly accused of betraying the agency and murdering one of their own. In attempt to clear his name, he enlists the help of a pilot and a hacker.

“Cruise sports pumped up pecs, a crop-top hair cut and a really callow attitude as Ethan,” Carol Buckland at CNN wrote in 1996. “He is as unbelievable as he is humorless.”

“The Last Samurai” (2003) received mix reactions from audiences and critics.
Tom Cruise fighting mid battle in 'The Last Samurai.'
Tom Cruise in ‘The Last Samurai.’ Warner Bros. Pictures
Critics’ Rotten Tomatoes Score: 66%

Synopsis: The Emperor of Japan hires an American military officer to teach his army about modern warfare, bringing together two very different worlds. 

“Beautifully designed, intelligently written, acted with conviction, it’s an uncommonly thoughtful epic,” Roger Ebert wrote in 2003. “Its power is compromised only by an ending that sheepishly backs away from what the film is really about.”

“Mission: Impossible III” (2006) has one of the higher critics’ scores in the franchise.
Tom Cruise in 'Mission: Impossible III' running from a burning car
Tom Cruise in ‘Mission: Impossible III.’ Paramount Pictures
Critics’ Rotten Tomatoes Score: 71%

Synopsis: In this installment, Ethan Hunt goes head-to-head with an arms dealer who threatens his fiancée. 

“Cruise is even more grim and determined than usual (imagine a muscular windup toy on methedrine) in a role that seems custom-fitted to his concept of himself as great husband material,” David Ansen at Newsweek wrote in 2006. “But other than this echo of tabloid news, ‘Mission: Impossible III’ has no distracting or discernible relation to the real world.”

Steven Spielberg’s remake of “War of the Worlds” (2005) was well-received.
Tom Cruise and Dakota Fanning in 'War of the Worlds' hugging each other
Tom Cruise and Dakota Fanning in ‘War of the Worlds.’ Paramount Pictures
Critics’ Rotten Tomatoes Score: 75%

Synopsis: When an alien invasion begins, a single father must seek refuge for his two children. 

“There likely won’t be a more gripping film this year than Spielberg’s ‘War Of The Worlds,’ which at its best glides along like choreography with a camera, slowly parsing out information while shrouding the rest in shadow and suggestion,” Scott Tobias at the AV Club wrote in 2005.

Cruise plays a hit man in “Collateral” (2004).
Jamie Foxx and Tom Cruise in ‘Collateral.’ Paramount Pictures
Critics’ Rotten Tomatoes Score: 86%

Synopsis: A hit man takes a cab driver hostage, forcing the driver to take him to each killing. 

“In the homestretch the thrills get too generic and farfetched for their own good,” David Ansen at Newsweek wrote in 2004. “But the first two thirds are a knockout.”

In “American Made” (2017), Cruise plays a pilot who becomes a CIA agent, and critics seemed to enjoy it.
Tom Cruise in 'American Made' at a pay phone
Tom Cruise in ‘American Made.’ Universal Pictures
Critics’ Rotten Tomatoes Score: 86%

Synopsis: Based on a true story, this film follows a commercial TWA pilot who is recruited by the CIA to fly drugs between the US and Central America. 

“By the time the movie roared to its shockingly grim, remarkably embittered ending, ‘American Made’ had won me over,” David Sims at The Atlantic wrote in 2017.

Cruise’s “Minority Report” (2002) fared very well with critics.
Minority Report scene with tom cruise looking in a mirror
Tom Cruise in ‘Minority Report.’ 20th Century Fox
Critics’ Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%

Synopsis: In 2054 Washington, DC, police use a new technology that arrests people before they murder someone. The head of this Precrime unit is arrested when he is accused of murdering someone he hasn’t met yet.

“Spielberg creates an intriguing world that is at once futuristic and accessible,” Namrata Joshi at Outlook India wrote in 2002. “It makes our collective imagination soar but is never alienating.”

Outside of his remaining “Mission: Impossible” films, “Edge of Tomorrow” (2014) is the only film to score over 90% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Tom Cruise in 'Edge of Tomorrow' in military gear and explosion behind him
Tom Cruise in ‘Edge of Tomorrow.’ Warner Bros.
Critics’ Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91%

Synopsis: When a military officer is killed in a battle with aliens, he is forced to relive the fight and his death over and over again.  

“‘Edge of Tomorrow’ is the perfect mix of blustering action and sci-fi thinky nonsense that is best enjoyed without picking at it too much,” David Sims at The Atlantic wrote in 2014. “It’s worth seeing just for the performances, the set-pieces, and the strong exploitation of its high-concept premise. It’s what summer movies are supposed to be for.”

“Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” (2011) is the third most-highly rated movie in the entire franchise.
Tom Cruise in 'Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol' scaling a building
Tom Cruise in ‘Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol.’ Paramount Pictures
Critics’ Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%

Synopsis: Ethan Hunt is accused of orchestrating a terrorist attack on the Kremlin, which prompts the IMF team to shut down and go rogue. 

“This movie’s Burj Khalifa action sequence is one of the most spellbinding stretches of film I’ve seen,” Roger Ebert wrote in 2011. “In the way it’s set up, photographed and edited, it provided me and my vertigo with scary fascination.”

Critics loved “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” (2015), giving it the second-highest score.
Tom Cruise in 'Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation' holding on to side of plane
Tom Cruise in ‘Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation.’ Paramount Pictures
Critics’ Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%

Synopsis: This time around, Ethan Hunt faces the Syndicate, a group of terrorist hell bent on establishing a new world order. 

“‘Rogue Nation’ feels like the most dramatically sustained and conceptually unified picture in the series,” Justin Chang at Variety wrote in 2015.

“Mission: Impossible – Fallout” (2018) earned a whopping 97% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Tom Cruise in 'Mission: Impossible - Fallout.'
Tom Cruise in ‘Mission: Impossible – Fallout.’ Paramount Pictures
Critics’ Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%

Synopsis: In an attempt to prevent another terrorist attack, Ethan Hunt and his team attempt to track down nuclear weapons that have gone missing.

“Ironically, the most entertaining element of all may be the star’s advancing age; Cruise, well into his 50s, scores numerous laughs as the increasingly confused and harried CIA agent Ethan Hunt, leaping into one spectacular stunt after another and then wishing he hadn’t,” J.R. Jones at the Chicago Reader wrote in 2018.