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Originally published June 24, 2010 at 3:17 PM | Page modified June 24, 2010 at 3:17 PM

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Scarecrow suggests | Like 'Knight and Day'? Check out Tom Cruise movies on video

People are seemingly still hung up on the whole late-stage Katie Holmes/couch-jumping/Scientology arm of the Tom Cruise phenomenon. It's worth remembering that...

People are seemingly still hung up on the whole late-stage Katie Holmes/couch-jumping/Scientology arm of the Tom Cruise phenomenon. It's worth remembering that he was and still is a massive movie star despite anyone's opinion of his personal life, and he has been for nearly 30 years.

And while his films may not always be classics, Cruise still has a great nose for an interesting premise and has a habit of enticing some really amazing behind-the-scenes talent.

Case in point: Steven Spielberg. Spielberg has shepherded through a couple of flawed but exciting Cruise ships. First there was "Minority Report," a sci-fi transmission about psychic crimebusters who stop murders before they're committed.

The film's futuristic settings and gadget-heavy antics are incredibly engaging until the entire story crumbles under the weight of a silly conspiracy plot. Cruise and co-star Samantha Morton are excellent though, even if their considerable skills are sometimes overshadowed by Spielberg's tendency to inject a little too much humor and/or schmaltz.

Then there was "War of the Worlds," an update of the famous H.G. Wells story about a Martian invasion of Earth. Although the film also fizzles a tad in the third act, for most of its running time it's a terrifying, exhausting and intense ride courtesy of Cruise's trademark smarmy charm and Spielberg's never-to-be-underestimated ability to push every one of your buttons.

And let's not forget the "Mission: Impossible" series, based on the TV show of course. Part 2, directed by John Woo, is a mess, but the first one from Brian De Palma is a crackerjack thriller built on a series of increasingly hairy heist sequences, executed by a modern master of loopy suspense films. Part 3, from future "Star Trek" rebooter and "Lost" co-creator J.J. Abrams, is also an underrated blast, hewing a lot more closely to the TV series' team spirit and elaborate plans. Also Keri Russell's eyeball pops out!

Contributed by Scarecrow Video, 5030 Roosevelt Way N.E., Seattle; 206-524-8554 or www.scarecrow.com.

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