17 Times Tom Cruise Proved No Mission Is Impossible

As Tom cruises into his 53rd birthday, let's look at the lessons we can learn from the stunt-performing star.

Tom Cruise action movies distinguish themselves from all other action movies in one crucial way: Tom Cruise, and, more specifically, how completely and utterly game he is to throw himself into harm's way.

The actor, who turns 53 today, famously performs more of his own death-defying stunts than virtually any other action star, from literally flying high on the side of an airplane in the upcoming "Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation," to scaling the world's tallest building in "Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol," and beyond. Cruise has been accused of being a bit of a maniac for many things in his time, and one fair accusation is that he's an absolute maniac when it comes to his on-screen gutsiness.

It's not just the stunts that set Cruise and his body of work apart, either. There's an unparalleled confidence in his performances, too, a charisma and charm that pops right off the screen and washes over viewers, giving all of us the sense that, if only for a fleeting moment, we can do the impossible, too.

Here's how Cruise has managed to prove time and time again that there's no mission too impossible for you to pull off:

  1. If Cruise can fly, you can fly.
  2. You can climb any mountain.
  3. You can climb anything.
  4. You can touch the sky.
  5. Nothing is faster than your top speed.
  6. (Okay, SOME things are faster.)
  7. You can speak the unspeakable truth in your heart, even when you think you can't.
  8. You can bite your tongue in an impossibly frustrating situation, too, even when you think you can't.
  9. You can defy death.
  10. You can live forever.
  11. Well, not literally.
  12. But you can survive almost anything.
  13. You can reinvent yourself.
  14. You will get older...
  15. ...and you can THRIVE growing older.
  16. For now, live it up while you're young.
  17. Most importantly? Always be cruising.