Tom Cruise’s latest movie vehicle, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, has landed in theaters with a loud thud. Savaged by critics with an abysmal 38% approval rating on movie review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film is expected to underperform at the box office this weekend and will likely be headed to a streaming service near you in the not too distant future. The poor reviews for the Jack Reacher sequel are surprising given that the first movie was greeted enthusiastically in 2012, and Cruise’s career has been on an upswing lately following the success of Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation last Christmas and Edge of Tomorrow in summer 2014. Yet this isn’t the first time Tom Cruise has delivered a stinker of a movie. Check out the following 10 worst movies of Cruise’s career:
10. Vanilla Sky (2001)
This movie was supposed to be a trippy psychological thriller that turned conventional wisdom on its head and blew audience’s minds. Instead it left critics and moviegoers confused and frustrated. An English-language remake of director Alejandro Amenábar’s 1997 Spanish film Open Your Eyes, Vanilla Sky co-starred Penelope Cruz (who also appeared in the original version) and Cameron Diaz. The plot is about a wealthy playboy (Cruise) whose jilted ex-girlfriend (Cameron Diaz) tries to kill them both in a car crash. Tom Cruise’s character is left hopelessly disfigured until he has his face surgically restored. Or did he? The rest of the movie is a confusing mess of flashbacks and flash forward scenes, prosthetic masks, and questions raised about what’s real and what isn’t, what might be a dream and so on. The ending is very confusing and director Cameron Crowe seems to lose control of this material pretty early on in the film. Currently holds a 41% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
9. Lions for Lambs (2007)
If you’re having trouble sleeping some night, you may want to watch this snooze fest of a movie from 2007. Lions for Lambs is, arguably, the most boring movie of Cruise’s career. A political drama set in Washington, D.C. concerning the morality of the war in Afghanistan, Lions for Lambs is basically a two hour lecture on why war is bad and people involved in pushing war are compromised hypocrites. This movie focuses on telling three different stories at the same time. One is about a U.S. Senator (Cruise) who launches a new military strategy and details it to a journalist (Meryl Streep). The second story concerns two soldiers involved in the military operation. The third story involves a college professor (Robert Redford) trying to re-engage a promising student by telling him the two other stories and tying everything together. The problem is that there are too many better ways to get the point across about the evils of war and how shallow politicians play games of chess with soldiers’ lives. Rotten Tomato score: 27%.
8. Far and Away (1992)
This lyrical tale of Irish immigrants making their way in America was one of Tom Cruise’s first stinkers. Released in 1992, and directed by Ron Howard, Far and Away came after a string of critical and commercial successes for Tom Cruise, notably Top Gun, Rain Man and Born on the Fourth of July. While an ambitious movie, Far and Away suffers from trying to be too epic in scale and scope. The movie starts off with Cruise and his then wife Nicole Kidman in Ireland and ends nearly three hours later with the two having crossed the United States to take part in the western Land Run of 1893. In between, the two engage in everything from bare knuckle boxing to laying railroad tracks in the Ozarks. It’s way too much for one movie, and the whole tone is overly sappy and sentimental. The movie cost $60 million to make (1992 dollars) and only ended up making $58 million at the box office. Rotten Tomatoes: 50%.
7. Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
We love Stanley Kubrick as much as anybody. But everyone who is anyone agrees that Eyes Wide Shut is the famed director’s worst movie – ever. Sadly it would be Mr. Kubrick’s last movie as he died shortly after he finished editing this film and before it was released. But the sex fable, again starring Tom Cruise and then wife Nicole Kidman, falls flat. As with the previous movie on this list, Vanilla Sky, the problem with Eyes Wide Shut is that it is too vague and confusing. Is the whole movie a dream? What is really going on with Tom and Nicole’s characters? It’s never really made clear, and that’s a problem. Plus, the sex in the film is not that interesting. Critics complained that it seemed as if Stanley Kubrick only half committed to this movie. And while this movie may hold a 74% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, it is Stanley Kubrick’s worst rated film… which is saying something.
6. All The Right Moves (1983)
Writing in Time magazine, film critic Richard Corliss called the 1983 movie All The Right Moves “The Flashdance of football movies.” That about sums it up for this hokey early 1980s slice of cheese. Tom Cruise plays a high school football player who longs to get out of his small Pennsylvania town – if only he could land that big college football scholarship! That about sums up the plot of this movie. Most of the time, Tom Cruise is seen clashing with is overly aggressive football coach (actor Craig T. Nelson) or canoodling with his girlfriend (Lea Thompson). There are also plenty of rain soaked slow motion football scenes and montages set against a ripping 80s soundtrack. Rotten Tomatoes score: 53%. Boo.
5. The Last Samurai (2003)
The Last Samurai? More like Dances with Samurai. This movie shamelessly copies the entire plot of Kevin Costner’s Dances with Wolves – right down to Tom Cruise’s character being a Civil War vet. But instead of shacking up with Native Americans and adopting their way of life, Cruise heads to feudal Japan, nests with Japanese samurai, and adopts their ways. This movie is such a carbon copy of Dances with Wolves, some movie critics refused to review it when it came out in 2003. While some film critics praised this movie for its elaborate battle scenes and costume design, most dismissed this movie outright. Another financial disappointment for Cruise, The Last Samurai earned more money at the box office in Japan than it did in North America. Rotten Tomatoes: 65%.
4. Rock of Ages (2012)
One of Tom Cruise’s most recent turkeys was the 2012 epic fail known as Rock of Ages. Based on a popular Broadway musical of the same name, this movie is a tacky celebration of 1980s hair metal bands – from Def Leppard and Whitesnake to Twisted Sister and Scorpions. Set in 1987, the movie’s plot is about a young girl who moves to L.A. from Oklahoma with dreams of becoming a singer. Tom Cruise plays Stacee Jaxx, the self-indulgent rock star and front man of a fictional hair metal band called Arsenal. Striving for authenticity, Tom Cruise belts out some classic 80s songs, including Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar On Me” and Guns n’ Roses “Paradise City.” Kudos to Cruise for taking a risk here. But the whole movie, and Cruise’s singing, fell flat with both critics and audiences. Made for $75 million, the movie grossed less than $60 million worldwide. Rotten Tomatoes: 41%.
3. Legend (1985)
Where to begin with this fossil from the 1980s? Legend was made in the mid-1980s and is one of those weird fantasy films from that era. Place it alongside The Dark Crystal, Dragonslayer, Labryinth and Krull. Directed by Ridley Scott, post-Blade Runner, Legend is about the Lord of Darkness who sends some goblins to kill two fabled unicorns. Apparently the unicorn horns can free the Lord of Darkness from the isolation realm where he has been confined. It’s up to two nymph forest dwellers played by Tom Cruise and actress Mia Sara (of Ferris Bueller fame) to save the unicorns. There’s also some crap about a ring in a pond and an apocalyptic winter. But none of that is important. This whole film is shot like a bad music video from the era. Roger Ebert said this movie “simply doesn’t work.” Another film critic, James O’Ehley of Sci-Fi Movie Page, called the film “evil.” Rotten Tomatoes score: 45%
2. Losin’ It (1983)
One of Tom Cruise’s first films, and definitely one of his worst, is 1983’s Losin’ It. Another 80s flick that seems to follow a template from the era, Losin’ It is a high school sex comedy about four friends who are trying to lose their virginity. In that respect, this movie is like a bad American Pie (where’s Eugene Levy when you need him?). Set in the 1950s, Losin’ It shows four pals from high school who head to Tijuana, Mexico to lose their virginity. Along the road trip, they pick up an older woman named Kathy (Shelly Long in her Cheers heyday) whose running away from her husband. A series of hijinks and misadventures south of the border ensues. Labeled a bad Porky’s upon release, this film was savaged by critics as lame and unfunny. Audiences totally ignored it. Rotten Tomatoes: 22%.
1. Cocktail (1988)
Still the worst after all these years is 1988’s Cocktail. Dear God, what were they thinking? In this train wreck of a movie, Tom Cruise plays a business student who takes up bartending at a T.G.I. Friday’s to make ends meet. (Yes, a T.G.I. Friday’s). There he meets his bartending mentor, played by actor Bryan Brown, and the two soon end-up flipping bottles of bourbon around and tossing them back and forth like a football in front of the crowd at the bar. Super cheesy! But it gets worse. Tom Cruise’s character heads to Jamaica to ply his craft as a bartender there (cue the Beach Boys’ song “Kokomo”) and is accompanied by his waitress girlfriend played by actress Elizabeth Shue. The rest of the movie basically involves gigolos trying to seduce and marry wealthy women to avoid having to get real jobs. The ending of this movie would seem somewhat tragic if the first 99% of the movie weren’t such a joke. Winner of the “Razzie Award” for worst movie of 1988, this clunker currently has an approval rating of just 5% on Rotten Tomatoes. Ouch!