"If he wants to continue making cash, making money, that's what he needs to do," E! gossip columnist Marc Malkin said. "His last couple of movies didn't do very well. Some people might blame that on Scientology and the fact that he was acting so kooky, but also, they weren't great movies. It's tough to do a WWII movie about the assassination of Hitler ["Valkyrie"] when we all know what the outcome was."
Milking a two-year-old supporting role for feature film material may seem like a stretch, but if it endears Cruise to new fans, it's worth the reach.
"He has reignited the cool factor he lost by allowing himself to play an unpredictable character. He's replaced the always serious Cruise with the playful Cruise," said Marvet Britto, founder of The Britto Agency, a brand architecture firm. "He's playing to the younger generation. He's saying, 'I can make fun of myself. I can take on a role that's not so serious.' He's opening a gateway to gain a whole new generation of evangelists and supporters."
Next up for Cruise: "Knight & Day," in which he plays a secret agent who corrals Cameron Diaz into a whirlwind, worldwide, somewhat incomprehensible journey to protect a battery that could unlock an infinite power source.
Judging from the trailer, there's a lot of gun shooting, car chasing, motorcycle straddling and "you-must-come-with-me-or-you-will-die"-ing. It's old school Cruise, the kind of guy that dominated adversaries both on screen and at the box office back in the days of "Mission Impossible," the first edition.
If "Knight & Day" opens at No. 1 when it comes out June 23 -- odds are in his favor, since no other wide releases are scheduled that weekend -- perhaps we can proclaim Cruise's career curse cured. That is, of course, assuming he doesn't pontificate his way through the circuit of pre-film press.
"To his credit, he's lightened his tone in public, and teaming with Cameron Diaz could only do him good," Musto said. "So while I don't know all the answers (unlike Tom), there's certainly hope."