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15 Best Tom Cruise Action Movies (& Where To Stream Them)

One of the things that made Tom Cruise such a bankable star is his versatility. He’s appeared in all kinds of movies across various genres. He’s given hilarious turns in comedies like Risky Business and Tropic Thunder, as well as engaging dramatic performances in classics like Rain Man and Born on the Fourth of July.

But arguably the genre that Cruise is most commonly associated with is action. From the aerial acrobatics of Top Gun to the increasingly daring stunts of the Mission: Impossible franchise, Cruise has starred in some awesome action movies over the years.

Updated on May 23rd, 2022 by Mark Birrell: As per Variety, Tom Cruise recently stated at the Cannes Film Festival that he never intends to release his movies straight to streaming, meaning that Top Gun: Maverick won’t be available to stream for some time yet. However, there are plenty of the actor’s other great action movies available right now.


Top Gun (1986)

Available to stream on Netflix and Paramount+

Tom Cruise in Top Gun

Maverick’s debut in the first Top Gun movie solidified Tom Cruise’s place on the Hollywood A-list and his return to the role after over 35 years has shown that he’s still at the top of it.

RELATED: 15 Best Movies Like Top Gun

While its jingoistic message has gained the movie a reputation as thinly veiled propaganda, Top Gun is an action movie classic anchored by palpable bromance and dazzling aerial set-pieces courtesy of legendary director Tony Scott.

Mission: Impossible III (2006)

Available to stream on Showtime

Ethan Hunt fires gun into the sky in Mission: Impossible 3

A decade after the original movie wowed audiences, Cruise brought on the then-freshman film director–and now renowned reboot maestro–J.J. Abrams to helm the Mission: Impossible franchise’s third installment. Abrams then stayed on as a producer for the following sequels, with this entry sowing the seeds of what the movies are today.

Though it may not contain a death-defying centerpiece like later Mission: Impossible sequels, the action never stops flowing in this threequel and Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Owen Davian is one of the best villains in the Mission: Impossible franchise.

Oblivion (2013)

Available to stream on HBO Max

Tom Cruise holding his rifle in Oblivion (2013)

A stylish sci-fi action thriller in the vein of classics like Logan’s RunOblivion was the first collaboration between Tom Cruise and director Joseph Kosinski, with whom Cruise would reunite for Top Gun: Maverick.

Top Gun fans will find plenty of aerial action in the movie, but it’s really the slick and detailed designs of the post-apocalyptic world that Cruise’s character inhabits that are the main selling point.

War of the Worlds (2005)

Available to stream on Netflix and Paramount+

Tom Cruise in the War of the Worlds

Though a far cry from an alien invasion blockbuster like Independence Day, Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of H.G. Wells’ seminal sci-fi story is bursting with huge action spectacle.

Despite his character not being an action hero by any means, Cruise plays perfectly into his star persona as a struggling divorced dad trying to protect his kids in the midst of a global attack by a technologically superior species. Cruise’s character may be more of a spectator to the action rather than a participant in it but the grounded perspective makes scenes like the tripod’s first appearance simply unforgettable.

The Last Samurai (2003)

Available to stream on Netflix

Tom Cruise in The Last Samurai

This period epic, whilst not without its romanticized depictions of its subject matter, is a highly-regarded entry in Tom Cruise’s list of action movies. Set in Japan in the late 19th century, the film follows Cruise’s haunted and bitter former soldier as he’s placed in the middle of a samurai rebellion.

RELATED: Tom Cruise’s 10 Best Movies, According To Ranker

The Last Samurai was nominated for 4 Oscars, including Best Supporting Actor for Cruise’s main co-star, Ken Watanabe. However, the whole cast gives noteworthy performances, with Cruise fully leaning into a violent samurai movie aesthetic.

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015)

Available to stream on fuboTV and Paramount+

Mission Impossible Rogue Nation Plane

The fifth Mission: Impossible movie introduced a SPECTRE-like organization to rival the heroes’ superheroic skills and a Blofeld-like mastermind to become the movie-series’ first recurring villain, with writer and director Christopher McQuarrie going on to become the franchise’s first recurring director also.

As Rogue Nation delivers its signature death-defying stunt in the opening scene, which features Cruise attached to the side of a real jet plane as it takes off, the movie is mostly a slightly more grounded affair than the other sequels in the franchise but nevertheless has nailbiting tension throughout and one of the best car chases of the 2010s.

Jack Reacher (2012)

Available to stream on Amazon Prime Video and Paramount+

Tom Cruise in Jack Reacher

Before Christopher McQuarrie took over the Mission: Impossible franchise, he directed Cruise as the title character in Jack Reacher. Based on One Shot, the ninth book in Lee Child’s Reacher series, Jack Reacher follows its eponymous vigilante’s investigation into a former military sniper who shot a seemingly random group of people in broad daylight.

Even the negative reviews of Jack Reacher noted that Cruise gives an affable turn and that the action sequences, like the car chase, are wildly entertaining.

Knight And Day (2010)

Available to stream on AMC+ and fuboTV

A blend of action thriller and romantic comedy, Knight and Day stars Cruise as a secret agent on a deadly mission and Cameron Diaz as a tourist who gets unwittingly swept up in his adventures.

The MacGuffin-driven plot can get a little confusing, but the movie is elevated by thrilling large-scale action scenes and spectacular chemistry between Cruise and Diaz.

Mission: Impossible (1996)

Available to stream on Pluto TV and Paramount+

mission impossible langley heist

The sequels to Mission: Impossible have become all-out action extravaganzas. Like the Fast & Furious series, it’s an exercise in one-upmanship as each movie sets out to top the spectacle of the last. But the original 1996 film directed by Brian De Palma was a slick and semi-grounded spy thriller.

More in line with the tone of the original TV series, the first Mission: Impossible movie revolves around meticulously planned espionage operations. Ethan Hunt dangling from the ceiling of a high-security vault is one of the most iconic movie moments of all time.

American Made (2017)

Available to stream on fuboTV

Tom Cruise in American Made

It’s rare that a biopic falls into the category of action, but Doug Liman’s American Made has shootouts, police raids, and crash landings. It tells the outrageous life story of Barry Seal, a pilot who simultaneously worked for the CIA and Pablo Escobar.

Cruise gives a charming and hysterically funny turn as Seal, while Liman conceived, shot, and edited the movie in the fast-paced, rapid-cutting, style of Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas.

Edge Of Tomorrow (2014)

Available to rent on Amazon Prime Video

Much like the slasher movie Happy Death Day, Doug Liman’s earlier collaboration with Tom Cruise, Edge of Tomorrow, incorporates another genre into the Groundhog Day “time loop” concept. Set in a future in which humanity is at war with alien invaders, Edge of Tomorrow sees Cruise’s soldier living the same day over and over again.

Based on Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s All You Need is Kill, Edge of Tomorrow is one of the most acclaimed sci-fi action thrillers of recent years though fans are still waiting for the sequel.

Collateral (2004)

Available to stream on HBO Max

collateral best movie stunts tom cruise performed himself

Directed by Michael Mann, Collateral is a riveting LA-set noir film and a fascinating two-hander about the relationship between two diametrically opposed characters. Jamie Foxx plays an everyman taxi driver and Cruise plays a ruthless hitman who hires him to transport him to jobs across the city on one fateful night.

As usual, Mann brings sleek cinematic style to the proceedings and the tangible on-screen chemistry shared by Foxx and Cruise keeps their characters’ dynamic compelling.

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011)

Available to stream on Pluto TV and Paramount+

tom cruise Mission impossible Ghost protocol burj khalifa stunt

Though the first three Mission: Impossible films were successful, Brad Bird’s Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol was somewhat of a revamp for the franchise. This time, IMF operative Ethan Hunt is forced to go off the grid in his pursuit of a nuclear extremist.

RELATED: Tom Cruise’s 10 Most Iconic Movie Quotes

The movie’s central set-piece, in which Hunt hangs off the facade of the Burj Khalifa, became one of the all-time great IMAX movie moments, still packing a punch on the smallest of screens. It’s filled with breathtaking action sequences, like a foot chase through a sandstorm and a heist in the Kremlin.

Minority Report (2002)

Available to rent on Apple TV

Tom Cruise using precog tech in Minority Report.

Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report is both a high-stakes crime thriller and a thought-provoking sci-fi epic. Set in a dystopian future in which the police can predict crimes before they take place, Tom Cruise’s top cop is accused of a murder he has yet to commit.

With its ambiguous morals and futuristic portrayal of law enforcement, Minority Report is a quintessential sci-fi noir in the same fascinating category as fellow Philip K. Dick adaptation Blade Runner.

Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018)

Available to stream on Paramount+

Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible Fallout

Acclaimed as one of the greatest action movies ever made by critics, Mission: Impossible – Fallout is by far the most thrilling, action-packed entry in the franchise so far.

Cruise stepped it up by doing death-defying stunts in practically every scene of Fallout. He dangled from a helicopter, jumped out of a plane, and rode a motorcycle the wrong way around the Arc de Triomphe. The movie’s commitment to largely-in-camera spectacle puts it in a class above most big-budget Hollywood action movies of the past decade.

NEXT: Tom Cruise’s 10 Best Movies, According To Letterboxd

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