Under the platform of Universal’s 100th Anniversary, Oliver Stone’s searing Born on the Fourth of July is finally receiving an up-to-date Blu-ray treatment. It’s a timely release for a variety of reasons. For one thing, it’s only a day prior to the titular holiday. For another, Stone’s drug-carter thriller Savages, which I’m actually quite looking forward to, hits theaters Friday. And, of course, there’s Tom Cruise, who’s been receiving terrific reviews for his stud-muffin turn in Adam Shankman’s Rock of Ages. (Oh, and it’s also his 50th birthday.)
On top of that, meanwhile, Cruise will be seen later this year in Christopher McQuarrie’s Jack Reacher, which plenty of people — myself included — are anticipating in large part because of Werner Herzog’s participation as the film’s villain. It’s unlikely that McQuarrie — unless he’s on some seriously messed-up hallucinogens — will not be able to garner at least some fun from a Cruise-Herzog square-off.
But back to Born on the Fourth of July, which I actually wrote about a couple of years ago when I was still operating over at Blogspot. I haven’t seen it since, but this is one of those films — fiery, intense, unhinged — that sneaks into your thoughts every now and again no matter how recently you’ve seen it. It has that effect of not letting you go, and that’s largely because of the Cruise performance, which simply seizes the viewer’s involvement immediately and doesn’t let up until it feels like all the oxygen’s been sucked out of the air. The commitment he displays is scary.
You could also use some of those descriptors to characterize his towering work in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia, and though I may have called Born on the Fourth of July his pinnacle performance back when I first wrote about it, I made it sound like a much easier choice than it is at the present moment. Even beyond these two films — from the gray-haired assassin of Collateral to the charmingly funky, finding-his-path teen of Risky Business — Cruise has consistently injected his movie-star image with one quality film after another. It makes you realize how many of his A-list counterparts are lacking in creative consistency.
With some of this in mind, go snag a Blu-ray copy of Born on the Fourth of July from Amazon. Also, take some time to go over the reflection of Cruise’s career that’s currently occurring over at In Contention, both with Kris Tapley’s rundown of the actor’s Top 10 performances and Guy Lodge’s intelligent write-up of Cruise’s star persona.