You can call that courage. Or you can just say that the guy never does anything at less than 125 percent. His action movies feed on his freakish intensity. Cruise scaled the Burj Khalifa skyscraper in Ghost Protocol; he has the crazy belief that that's the sort of thing action stars should do. And even when he's safely on the ground, the dude doesn't take it easy. If there was an Oscar for Best Running, Cruise would have won it a couple times, at least. Lots of actors are in chase scenes, but few seem to genuinely love them as much as he does: It's as if he considers them the best way to show how committed he is to the role. And that commitment comes through. We can't but be thrilled watching the guy run for his life.

That utter embrace of everything he does gets him into all types of trouble, of course. When he wants to tell Oprah how much he loves Katie Holmes, he really lets her know. When he wants to spread the word about Scientology, he stops at nothing to make that happen. His revved-up laugh, his super-focused interview style: Everything's just a notch above what's normal. That extra oomph makes him seem slightly inhuman, yes. But when he dedicates it to entertaining us, he rarely fails.


How is he in Jack Reacher? He's very much Tom Cruise, which is to say that he's not going to let age or logic slow him down. Fans of the Lee Child novels from which the Jack Reacher character is based are furious since the short Cruise is nothing like the hulking character from the books. But if anyone can make the moviegoer overcome that concern, it's Cruise. He simply wills the viewer to accept him as a former military man who now lives like a shadowy hobo. The movie isn't all that great—it plays like an airport novel with creaky plot twists and generic side characters—but Cruise is becoming more fun to watch as he ages. So, yes, his personal life is also getting stranger with age. But I ignore that. Up there on the screen, he just keeps going. He can't run and shoot and scream stuff while running and shooting forever. But, god bless him, he thinks he can.

Grierson & Leitch is a regular column about the movies. Follow us on Twitter, @griersonleitch.