At age 60, powerhouse actor Tom Cruise continues to prove that age is just a number. Tom Cruise has never shied away from performing impossible stunts, even in the early years of Mission Impossible. In fact, he openly encouraged it in order to make the action sequences as real as possible. The actor, who recently turned 60, continually pushes himself to perform life-threatening stunts, inspiring moviegoers to watch action movies unlike any other. Cruise continues to demonstrate his value as an action star, one who will be remembered for his spectacular stunts and on-screen presence, thanks to the success of his most recent film, Top Gun: Maverick.
With the Mission Impossible franchise coming to an end with Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning, the first instalment of which will be released next year, we look back at Tom Cruise’s career-defining action stunts and how he made them possible.
Knife to the Eye, Mission: Impossible 2
Most people would assume that this is CGI, but it is actually Tom Cruise, who is prepared to risk his safety in order to improve the scene. For this scene in the second Mission Impossible film, Tom Cruise actually insisted on a real knife being used to make it appear more threatening and authentic. The knife appeared to be fastened to a steel cable. Even though MI: 2 may not be the best in the series, Tom Cruise still gave it everything he had, even at the risk of losing an eye.
Climbing the Burj Khalifa, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
Yes, that is actually Tom Cruise scaling the tallest building in the world. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol can be credited for revitalizing the franchise and bringing it to new heights (pun intended), by upping its game in terms of stunts, and this scene in which Ethan Hunt scales the Burj Khalifa, will forever remain in the hall of fame of stuntwork. Joseph Kahn, a filmmaker who had worked with the director of photography for Ghost Protocol, Robert Elswit, told him that the original plan for the Burj Khalifa stunt was to CGI Cruise in. Tom then replied, “THERE IS NO DIGITAL TOM! JUST TOM!”. Here he is sitting on top of the Burj Khalifa without a harness.
Plane crash in zero-G, The Mummy
The plane crash scene in The Mummy (2017), which required the entire ensemble to perform an actual zero-G flight, ensured that even the forgettable film had at least one memorable scene. Cruise shot 64 takes in zero gravity for a scene involving an aircraft crash in the film, according to Variety. Four high-altitude flights and two days of shooting were required for the sequence.
Held his breath for six minutes underwater, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
One of Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation’s wildest stunts is the diving scene in which Tom Cruise had to hold his breath underwater for six minutes. Regarding the stunt, Tom Cruise said during an interview with USA Today, that it was something he had always wanted to do. “(Director Christopher McQuarrie) and I have been thinking about it since working on ‘Edge of Tomorrow.’ I have done a lot of underwater sequences. But we wanted to create a suspense underwater sequence without cuts. So doing that sequence was really interesting. We’re underwater and we’re doing breath-holds of 6 to 61/2 minutes. So I was doing all my training with the other stuff (on-set). It was very taxing stuff.”
Hanging onto an Airbus, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation opens with a death-defying stunt, that has Ethan Hunt hanging onto an Airbus 400 as it takes off. To the surprise of no one, it wasn’t CGI, or a stuntman hanging on, it was actually Tom Cruise. Robert Elswit, director of photography for MI: Rogue Nation tells Hollywood Reporter that the only visual effects that were used were to digitally erase the wires that hep Tom Cruise on the plane.
Halo jump, Mission Impossible: Fallout
Tom Cruise’s willingness to go above and beyond for his audience is evident in Mission Impossible: Fallout. Tom Cruise free-fell during the Halo leap sequence, which required more than 100 takes to produce the perfect one that would be used in the movie. The stunt, according to USA Today, took more than a year to plan and carry out. In order to acquire the three shots he and director Christopher McQuarrie desired, Cruise jumped from a C-17 military plane a total of 106 times between practising for the stunt and filming.
Dangling off a flying helicopter, Mission Impossible: Fallout
Cruise performed yet another insane stunt in which he dangled from the bottom of a helicopter that was in flight. In the sequence, Ethan loses control of the helicopter and falls onto a cargo load that is being raised by it. Later, he manages to pilot a helicopter, resulting in a high-speed chase in the air. According to TheWrap, The worst part for Cruise was that he had to reshoot that stunt five times before moving on to pilot a helicopter for a pursuit scene that needed him to approach another chopper dangerously close.
Flying scenes, Top Gun: Maverick
Critics have praised Top Gun: Maverick for its compelling narrative and action-packed flight scenes. But for several of the air shots, Tom Cruise flew himself to create the most realistic flight sequences imaginable. He also pushed his co-stars to become pilots. For his cast, Cruise designed a rigorous five-month aviation curriculum with daily goals, according to Metro UK. They had to keep track of their development every night so Cruise could modify their course.
Hanging on the wing of upside down plane, Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning
With the Mission Impossible franchise quickly coming to an end, there is little doubt that the filmmakers will go above and beyond to provide some genuinely jaw-dropping action sequences. In fact, set photographs only hint at what will be revealed. Tom Cruise was spotted pulling out a feat in a WWII biplane that involved him being fastened to the wing while the aircraft nosedived, swirled, and turned on its side before Cruise climbed back inside. Tom Cruise performs another stunt by riding a motorcycle down a cliff and into a base jump.