Tom Cruise would like Hollywood to know that he's still pretty employable—the white Will Smith! After successful turns in Tropic Thunder (funny!) and Valkyrie (not a total bomb!), Maverick is back.

The cult-entangled actor has been running around Hollywood, taking meetings with all manner of directors and studio heads, trying to sell that old song and dance about Tom Cruise the Big Movie Star. And he has a small flotilla of projects to show for it! There are a few comedies—a long-gestating Hardy Boys thing with Ben Stiller, a Chinese/American laff romance with the always hilarious Ziyi Zhang, something with Cameron Diaz about Kansas—that would, in theory, capitalize on his scene-chewing Thunder role. And then there's the usual pile of thrillers about imperiled presidents or team-ups with Denzel.

Like one of those over-eager contestants on I Want to Work for Diddy, the personal strength that Cruise is now touting via Variety is he will do pretty much anything to sell a movie, including one supposes, dialing back the crazy.

The only problem is that none of these movies really sound like the next Mission: Impossible or even Minority Report. It's B-material that they're throwing a new coat of paint on now that a former movie star is sniffing around for property to resuscitate his career. One of the potential projects is described as such: "a team of government agents rescued from a plane crash in the Himalayas by an advanced civilization and given superhuman abilities." Which, um, OK. Himalayas? Yes. Plane crash? Yes. Superhuman abilities? Absolutely. But doesn't this sound like, at best, a Vin Diesel vehicle? I mean, is that horrible Chris Evans going to costar as the snappy, brash young sidekick or something? Cruise used to do Event Movies. Now it's Alive meets Fantastic Four and pictures about Wichita and Cameron D. Plus, the last career milestone for Tom is that elusive Oscar. He's not going to get it this way.

So he's working. Good for him, he's earned it. But the quality may take some time to catch up with his commitment.