It’s heartening to see glowing reviews for the new ‘Mission: Impossible.’ We love great action movies. But the media should stop ignoring Cruise’s leadership role in Scientology.
Tom Cruise is many things. He is among our greatest living movie stars, in the traditional and best sense of that term, and a pleasure still, all these decades after his Risky Business breakout, to watch on screen.
At 56, he is a marvel of aging, a practical world wonder executing outrageous stunts of escalating danger, year after year (a flash of that dashing, confusingly youthful smile its own veritable human special effect).
He is the star of Mission: Impossible—Fallout, a film being gilded an action masterpiece, with critics straining their vocal chords cheering how it wows, thrills, and even “fucks.” It comes out this weekend, and it is very good!
Cruise is also a Scientologist. Did we remember that? I mean, of course we remember that. It’s arguably the first thing someone thinks of when they think about Cruise at this point: his longtime stature as a high-ranking member and proponent of the Church of Scientology and his close relationship with its leader, David Miscavige. But I’m just checking because, as Cruise takes his victory lap on this fawning press tour, the organization seems to be receiving nary a mention.
Listen, a person of Cruise’s stature and with such controversial baggage is never going to embark on a press tour that consists of anything but puff pieces and softball interviews adhering to warnings about forbidden questions and topics (chiefly: Scientology!). But that doesn’t make its erasure any less aggravating, the media complicity in fostering an inaccurate image of an influential member of a reportedly oppressive organization any less irresponsible, and our collective willingness to accept all of this in the name of enjoying a badass movie any less damning.
For example, there’s his appearance on Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show, which, I know, is not the venue that is going to interrogate Tom Cruise on the intricacies of Scientology’s greatest atrocities, but is, you know, almost laughably endearing. He participated in a “Mad Libs Theater” bit with Fallon, and as headlines raved, couldn’t keep a straight face! “He can jump out of planes and save the free world from attackers, but Tom Cruise couldn’t seem to hold it together on Monday’s episode of The Tonight Show,” wrote one recapper.