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December 16, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Tom Cruise, who had been getting a lot of bad press in recent years for everything from jumping on Oprah’s sofa to touting the supposed benefits of Scientology, is finally receiving some printed praise again, thanks to the major newspaper film critics. Most of them marvel at Cruise’s sheer audacity in some of the scenes in Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol, which the actor reportedly pulled off without a stunt double. Those scenes, directed by Brad Bird, who made a name for himself directing action sequences in Pixar’s animated films, benefit greatly, says Betsy Sharkey in the Los Angeles Times, “not only from Cruise’s presence but also his willingness and ability to do big chunks of his own stunt work.” In particular, there’s (literally) the high point of the film, a scene showing Cruise using special gloves that allow him to climb Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. “The sequence is one of the most spellbinding stretches of film I’ve seen,” writes Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times. (Although, he adds, “if that’s really Tom Cruise, he seems like a suitable case for treatment.”) However, Gary Thompson in the Philadelphia Daily News argues that the whole purpose of the movie seems to be “to provide Cruise a forum to perform amazing movie superstar stunts.” Joe Morgenstern in the Wall Street Journal observes that Cruise has matured physically as well as professionally, providing a performance “that’s always entertaining and sometimes downright touching.” It is just that maturity — Cruise is about to turn 50 — that embellishes the role he plays in this film, A.O. Scott suggests in the New York Times. When he hangs on the Burj Khalifa, he writes, “what you see isn’t just a man doing a crazy stunt but also one poignantly denying his own mortality.”