On June 23rd, 2005, Tom Cruise appeared on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and proceeded to go completely nutso over his new girlfriend Katie Holmes, and the world changed forever. I'm serious: Scientology is a household name, and Tom Cruise lost almost all of his pull at the box office. There were other effects, but aside from those two main results, there was only one other that mattered to me: Mission: Impossible III opened on May 5th, 2006 to underwhelming box office.
Which sucks, because I felt then, and still do, that it's one of the best summer action movies of the decade. Aside from some minor quibbles (not enough of Hoffman as the villain and a few lame political touches during the movie's twist), it's a popcorn masterpiece that throws in plenty of grit under its PG-13 rating and packs a stellar cast (including Hoffman, Laurence Fishburne, Billy Crudup, returning star Ving Rhames, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Maggie Q, Michelle Monaghan, Keri Russell and Simon Pegg) while blasting away the terrible taste left behind by the excruciatingly poor Mission: Impossible 2. It had good trailers and the critics liked it (scoring a 70% on Rotten Tomatoes), and yet it didn't do as well as the others, just because Tom Cruise lost it. Now, I hate celebrity gossip magazines and tabloids, and I can't blame them for this -- Cruise did flip out -- but does it really make a difference? He's an actor. Who he is on screen is not who he is in real life. Frankly, if this influenced your opinion of him as an actor and not as a person, then I just think you're foolish.
There was a period following M:i:III where Cruise had a falling-out with Paramount and it looked like another Mission: Impossible would never happen, but here we are three years later and Tom's made good with the studio. Yesterday, it was announced that a fourth film is in the works with Paramount's newest box office king J.J. Abrams returning to produce.
All of you who skipped Mission: Impossible III in theaters, do yourself a favor and go see it now. Squirm at the thought of nasal-injected brain explosives. Hold your breath during the excellently tense bridge scene, which gives you that rare feeling that the characters might really be screwed. Watch Tom Cruise give what may be the last self-aware performace he'll ever give. Then be ashamed that you valued your opinions about what a celebrity does with their life over seeing a good movie. Jerks.