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An Open Letter to Dan about Tom

Tom Cruise at the 61st Academy Awards 1989Image via Wikipedia

Here is my rebuttal to your

Why I Like Tom Cruise…And Why You Should Too

Dan, you do a great job highlighting Mr. Cruise's career, but sir, you are glossing over too much.
Between his STAR-making role in Top Gun (1986) and his turns in Rain Man (1988) and Born on the Fourth of July (1989), Cruise took on the colossal Cocktail (1988).
I dare say that you have four movies in a row that pretty well established the character that Cruise would become for the rest of his career with a few exceptions.
I firmly believe that Cruise was always looking for award bait early on and Born on the Fourth was first legit attempt.  
In the Cruise filmography, you then noticeably skip some time. You skip his duds Days of Thunder (1990) or "Top Gun on a racetrack" and then Far and Away (1992), an excuse to star with his wife, work with Ron Howard, and presumably again, get some awards. 
You move onto A Few Good Men (1992), (Top Gun in a courtroom? too big of stretch, I know). He follows it with The Firm (1993), a fairly safe bet and Interview with the Vampire (1994), just an odd choice. A risk I suppose?
He then reinvigorates after a hiatus for Mission:Impossible (1996), his first action turn and in the same year puts out Jerry Maguire, his second legit attempt at Oscar. 
Again, looking back, except for Vampire, is there a HUGE difference in these characters? I suppose on paper yes, but looking at the performances, can you really remove Cruise from the character?
A major except year occurs in 1999 when he does both Eyes Wide Shut, a vanity project with Kubrick and Magnolia. I am EXTREMELY surprised that these two in particular are left off your retrospect, because they definitely illustrate some willingness to branch out and truly do something different.
2000 sees Cruise returning to form with Mission:Impossible 2 and John Woo nearly destroys several careers at once. The Cruise does something interesting: the remake of Abre Los Ojos as Vanilla Sky. This was probably his biggest risk of all and you ignored it? 
You do catch up with Cruise back in 2004 with Collateral but not before he has done Minority Report (2002) and The Last Samurai (2003). Both are fairly derivative of earlier work yes?
Since Collateral (2004) where you stop, his only risk taking turns have been Lion for Lambs (2007), maybe? (haven't seen it) and his appearance in Tropic Thunder (2008). I would suggest that Tropic wasn't a huge risk and in many ways seems like the role he was probably born to play (Top Gun as a producer? Way too big of a stretch.)
I guess this is less of a rebuttal and more to point out that yes, Cruise has taken some risks and taken failure along with his HUGE success. However, his success has mainly been because he found what worked for him and beat that horse until it died in the stable.
This is why his latest films including this year's Knight and Day and his in-production, MI:IV look so much like his earlier work. Not so surprisingly, we are learning that he is returning to that which made him: Top Gun! That road less traveled isn't as well traveled by Cruise as you suggest looking at the fuller body of work.
Thanks for the exercise. Noticeably, I have watched most of Cruise's work. And I will still razz this on Twitter as much as humanly possible.
Sincerely, T
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