Not particularly to my shame, I am a Tom Cruise fan about fifty percent of the time. I think he can be a superb actor; I also think that he spends at least half his movies chewing scenery. You just never know. This time around, he bothers to act rather than over-emoting, and that means that a fairly typical movie about Americans encountering a different culture gets to be better than it should be. That, plus Ken Watanabe, who makes a huge difference as a credible intelligent rebel lord.
Now, the end of the movie sucks big fat rocks. Seriously, do yourself a favor and walk out after the clear emotional climax. You’ll be happier that way. But up till then it’s a really solid understated movie that I liked a whole lot.