The first image from Tom Cruise’s upcoming film, All You Need is Kill, was just released and while the image is not enlightening re: plot (it’s just a shot of Cruise in a futuristic mech suit running away from fire), there was a brief plot description included. Based on the Japanese graphic novel of the same name, All You Need is Kill is about a soldier who relives his last suicide mission over and over until he’s able to defeat an alien army. It sounds similar to Duncan Jones’ Source Code, or, as Lainey put it, “that train movie with Jake G”. In the Daily Mail’s write-up on the movie, they note that Kill will be released next year.

One problem: All You Need is Kill isn’t due until 2014. Oblivion, a different sci-fi action film set in the future about Cruise battling aliens, is set for April 2013. Tom Cruise’s movies are completely interchangeable.

How long can Cruise keep this up? His upcoming slate includes these alien movies, this December’s Jack Reacher, a Van Helsing project, Mission: Impossible 5 and the idea of Top Gun 2 (in the wake of Tony Scott’s death, it’s indefinitely on hold). That’s straight action movies for the next 3-5 years, at least. Cruise is fifty. How long is it plausible for him to keep selling us that he is ONE MAN, OUT TO SAVE THE WORLD? I would argue he’s already hit the threshold of believability, but Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol was a big success and there is a lot of money sunk into Tom Cruise: Action Hero. Still, I don’t care how good of shape you’re in or how well you’ve maintained—at some point, it just starts looking silly. Given Cruise’s Disgusting Torso of Doom I would say we’ve already reached that point.

This flurry of activity is based on the success of MI:4, but we don’t actually know if people are still that into Tom Cruise, Action Hero, or if they just enjoyed a decent Mission: Impossible movie. Rock of Ages didn’t exactly overwhelm over the summer, which would suggest that Cruise only has real value within a specific demographic (the I want to see a “stoic man saves the world” demographic). Jack Reacher will go a long way to indicating audiences’ interest in Cruise outside a pre-existing franchise, but I wonder if between the spectacle of Cruise’s personal life and the increasing improbability of him as an action star, if the interchangeable alien movies won’t end up being interchangeable bombs.