The Tom Cruise that fascinated us 25 years ago is not the Tom Cruise that fascinates us today. Back then, Cruise was fresh off the critical and commercial success of A Few Good Men and married to Nicole Kidman, on his way (if not there already) to becoming the biggest movie star in the world. This was all before the Oprah incident, "Matt, you’re glib," and the Scientology exposé, Going Clear. In many ways, 1993's The Firm, a legal thriller based on the best-selling novel by John Grisham, is the most snackable Tom Cruise film of all: aggressively familiar, momentarily enjoyable, and quickly forgotten.
But it's also weird. Really weird.
What exactly is so weird about Tom Cruise in The Firm? The movie’s plot doesn’t waver too much from the nine essential Cruise plot elements, as defined by Roger Ebert: The Firm has a Mentor (played here by a game Gene Hackman), a Superior Woman (Jeanne Tripplehorn), a Craft (tax law), a Proto-Enemy (Ed Harris), and an Eventual Enemy (the firm itself!), all arriving at various points during the movie’s leisurely 154 minutes. But after multiple viewings, Cruise’s eccentricities as a performer rise to the surface. Some are small. Some are big. Some will cause you to question the nature of reality itself. Let's take a closer look.