24. Days of Thunder (1990)
Cruise re-teamed with Top Gun director Tony Scott for this racing drama, which has not aged well. (When I watched this, I kept thinking, "Jesus, this is so 1990.") Of course, he plays hotshot race-car driver Cole Trickle (how’s that for a name!), making all the right moves as a rising NASCAR star and making major moves on his doctor, played by future Nicole Kidman, whom he married the same year.
23. Mission: Impossible (1996)
Here is where Tom Cruise, Action Movie Star, was born. The first in the ongoing movie franchise started with this taut thriller, starring Cruise as jet-setting, danger-attracting spy Ethan Hunt. Although the movie had some full-throttle sequences courtesy of director Brian De Palma, the plot veers closer to a global detective story than a stunt-filled extravaganza. Anyone who claims to have fully understood the plot after one viewing is lying.