This weekend, Tom Cruise returns to theaters with the second installment in the Jack Reacher film franchise, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back. Much like last time, Cruise’s Reacher is called upon to clear the name of an innocent person saddled with a heinous crime, in this case, his former commanding officer Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders). It's the latest installment in the Cruise Action Canon, a set that started in earnest with the first Mission Impossible back in 1996 and has carried through six installments in that franchise, two Reacher movies, and a handful of one-offs like Oblivion, Minority Report, and Edge of Tomorrow. And while these films are all marked by incredible stunt sequences and formidable fight choreography, they're also notable for something else: providing the best safe spaces for women in all of action cinema.
Short of playing a Mockingjay, being Tom Cruise's female co-star is the highest-profile showcase for women in the whiz-bang genre to kick ass, be sexy, and outwit their opposition, without having to worry about being grossly objectified or used as a prop to demonstrate the virility of a male lead. In his own strange way, you could make the case that Tom Cruise — onscreen, at least — is the feminist action hero 2016 needs.