It’s a simple question: Can he handle the truth? We already know Jack Nicholson’s opinion on the matter, but excuse me if I don’t just take the word of the star of Anger Management as gospel.
Tom Cruise and Nicholson’s legendary exchange in A Few Good Men has become one of the most memorable moments in movie history, to the point that literally anytime the word “truth” is mentioned, it’s sure to be quickly followed by someone declaring, “You can’t handle the truth!”
So in honor of A Few Good Men and its iconic courtroom scene turning 25, EW set out to find out once and for all if Cruise and all of his movie characters are truly able to handle the truth. To do so was no easy task, as it involved evaluating many of the movie star’s biggest films to find out the definitive answer. Let’s call it, the Cruissessment.
Far and Away
The truth: Shannon (Nicole Kidman) doesn’t like his hat.
Could Cruise handle it? No. There are plenty of ways to reasonably respond to a woman not liking your hat. For example: You could get a new hat; you could stop wearing hats; you could not care about what someone thinks of your hat. But, picking a woman up, throwing her in a water-filled bath tub, and screaming, “Tell me you like my hat,” all while you’re not even wearing said hat, seems like a slight overreaction.
The truth: Iceman is a better nickname than Maverick.
Could Cruise handle it? No. Don’t get me wrong, Maverick (Cruise) is a cool call sign, but it pales in comparison to Iceman (Val Kilmer). And if we’re going to be honest, that’s probably why things were mostly so cold between the two pilots.
A Few Good Men
The truth: Colonel Jessup (Nicholson) ordered the code red.
Could Cruise handle it? Yes. Honestly, I’m not sure a truth has ever been more handled. Lt. Daniel Kaffee felt strongly that he knew the truth, but he had no evidence, so his only hope was to emerge victorious from a heated courtroom showdown with Jessup. The cocky attorney went right at the intimidating and powerful figure, saying he was “entitled” to answers and, ultimately, demanding the truth. Did he look a bit shocked when Jessup finally confessed to ordering the code red? Sure, but even LeBron can be momentarily surprised by what he’s able to do on the basketball court. Plus, this whole evaluation would be in trouble if Cruise couldn’t handle this truth.
Mission: Impossible franchise
The truth: The more running, the better.
Could Cruise handle it? Yes. I’m not sure if you know this, but Tom Cruise runs, like, a lot, in his movies. As evidenced in the amazing montage below, while he’s often in a rush to get somewhere, he saves his best runs for Ethan Hunt in the Mission: Impossible series, wherein he’s trying to avoid explosions, wind storms, and doves.
The truth: Jerry needs to show Rod (Cuba Gooding Jr.) the money.
Could Cruise handle it? Yes. If “You can’t handle the truth” is the most memorable quote Cruise has been told, then, “Show me the money” would be the most memorable one he’s actually said. And thankfully, Maguire proved to be a man of his word and indeed showed Rod the money via a new contract. Even though, if we’re nitpicking, how did he not also score him an endorsement deal with Bank of America or some cash advance business?
The Last Samurai
The truth: The last samurai shouldn’t have been the guy from Cocktail.
Could Cruise handle it? No. I’m not a samurai expert, but that’s like The Last Jedi being Jar Jar Binks.
The truth: Tom Cruise should play more bad guys.
Could Cruise handle it? No. As a cold-blooded hitman who ruins the night of Jamie Foxx’s cab driver in Michael Mann’s underrated film, Cruise gives a chilling performance unlike anything else he’s ever done. Seeing a gray-haired, evil side of Cruise was an unexpected delight, considering his usual action hero mode. It’s time for him to return to a villain role, which leads to my current dream of Cruise being cast as the bad guy in the Fast & Furious spinoff.
Lions for Lambs
The truth: His character’s name is Jasper Irving.
Could Cruise handle it? No. Nobody could believably have that name — especially a character played by Tom Cruise.
The truth: No one can stop themselves from dancing to Flo Rida.
Could Cruise handle it? Yes. In the strangest and funniest performance of his career, Cruise donned a fat suit and bald cap as Tropic Thunder‘s studio executive Les Grossman. The best part about Grossman wasn’t his profanity-laced insults, but his moves to Flo Rida’s No. 1 hit “Low,” proving its status as a must-dance track.
The truth: His character has a big butt.
Could Cruise handle it? Yes. Over the summer, a viral tweet used photographic evidence to posit the theory that Cruise used a fake butt in the 2007 film. Cruise put an end to the speculation, admitting, “It’s not CGI, it’s me. I do my own mooning in films.” So it’s settled — it’s real and it’s spectacular.
Edge of Tomorrow
The truth: Major Cage is not getting out of the time loop.
Could Cruise handle it? No. Understandably, it would be hard to accept that your daily routine is just to “Live. Die. Repeat.” And while Cruise’s Major William Cage eventually gets more accustomed to the seemingly never-ending process (thanks to the help of badass Emily Blunt), it’s too late in the game to get credit for properly handling it. But that last look though…
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back
The truth: Jack Reacher should never go back.
Could Cruise handle it? No. He went back.
The truth: Nick Morton should have just been screaming the whole movie.
Could Cruise handle it? No. The Mummy was not, despite the video below, an almost entirely silent film with the sole exception of Cruise’s character screaming.
The truth: Tom Cruise is still a movie star.
Could Cruise handle it? Yes. When looking at Tom Cruise’s recent filmography, it’s easy to wonder, “Is he still a movie star?” (It’s also fair to wonder what Knight and Day is). Well, while I can’t answer the latter, American Made proved the former to be a fact. Telling the true story of Barry Seal, a pilot-turned-drug smuggler-turned DEA informant, Cruise’s latest film didn’t dominate at the box office and won’t win any awards, but it featured a true, cocaine-covered, movie-star performance from Cruise.
The Final Verdict
He may have done well with the most memorable truth he’s come across, but overall, Tom Cruise characters cannot handle the truth.