5 Most daring Tom Cruise stunts from the Mission: Impossible franchise

Insanity, thy name is Tom Cruise.

The Mission Impossible franchise features some of Hollywood’s most audacious action scenes across the series, and for it, the films have garnered acclaim for their action sequences.

Some may scoff and argue they go too over the top, but that’s exactly the point - the more boldly extreme the better.

To bring that nail-biting nervousness to those scenes, franchise star Tom Cruise has made it his mission (pause for laughter) to make them as authentic as possible, achieving this by literally doing the stunts himself.

The legendary actor has put himself in many daunting situations all in the name of the movies, and today, we are taking a look at five of the most daring Tom Cruise stunts from the Mission Impossible franchise.

Motorbike cliff jump & freefall

Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One 

We start with the featured stunt from the latest film. Dead Reckoning Part One has received rave reviews so far and set the franchise record for the biggest opening weekend box office total.

For his big stunt, Cruise was doing what is said to be his most dangerous stunt ever. The sequence saw him driving a motorbike off a cliff, then pushing himself off the bike into a free fall before he pulls his parachute.

They filmed this stunt first, so to account for any reworks in case something goes wrong. But the actor must have been glad to be back or just enjoyed the stunt so much because it was revealed that he did the jump a total of six times.

Once just wasn’t enough, apparently.

HALO jump

Mission: Impossible - Fallout

A High Altitude, Low Opening jump, or HALO jump, is a military skydiving technique where the troops will jump from altitudes between 15,000 - 35,000 feet and pull their parachutes at a low altitude. As such, they often reach a terminal velocity of 126 mph.

Tom Cruise is an avid skydiver anyway, so he said why not to filming a scene in the sixth instalment, Fallout, where he performs a HALO jump.

The scene sees Ethan Hunt (Cruise’s character) jump from an altitude of 25,000 feet to save Walker (Henry Cavill, although he didn’t do the jump).

It was all one continuous take, with the only CGI element in it being the ground and the weather - the scene takes place in a thunderstorm in Paris, but was filmed in the United Arab Emirates, as that was the only country that allowed them to film the stunt.

And it wasn’t as simple as just jumping. Cruise had to keep in mind where the camera was, as another jumper who was filming him was just mere inches from his face. Plus he still had some acting to do, remembering his lines and having to think about the altitude so as to know when to pull his parachute.

All that for just one attempt a day at getting the shot. Simple enough.

Scaling the Burj Khalifa

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol

Scaling a building is one thing. Scaling the tallest building in the world should not be a thing. But of course, if the scene calls for it, Tom Cruise will do it.

In Ghost Protocol, Hunt must scale the outside of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, a building that stands at a height of 828 metres (2,717 feet).

Cruise achieved this stunt while being propped up by just a single safety rope - unfortunately, the magnetic gloves he wears that seem to do the trick and that all secret agents in every Hollywood action film also have don't actually work. Or exist.

It’s a daunting scene, one that keeps you on the edge of your seat the entire time, the fear of something going wrong so clearly in your mind since it seems so easy for something bad to happen.

This was also the first movie where the brunt of the marketing was focused on this stunt, marking the start of this trend for the franchise.

Hanging off a plane

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation

There should be no amount of money that could make anyone want to do this stunt.

Tom Cruise has a price, though, and the studio obviously gave it to him because he was dangling off the side of a plane while it was taking off in Rogue Nation.

The visual of Cruise gripping on for dear life as the ground below him shrinks smaller and smaller, his suit blazer flapping in the high-speed wind. Simply bonkers.

Oh, and did he do just one take to get it right? No, don’t be silly. He did it eight times.

He did have a harness that fed into the plane and didn’t have to hold on the entire time until he landed, as the door would open and he would safely be brought inside the plane.

But that doesn’t change the fact that he really did hold on to the side of a real plane as it was taking off.

Helicopter chase

Mission: Impossible - Fallout

Another one from the consensus best film of the franchise, this time at least he was safely inside a vehicle.

Well, safely probably isn’t the right word to use, as he was piloting a helicopter, performing incredibly advanced manoeuvers that would usually be left to the Red Bull stunt pilots.

Bear in mind that Cruise didn’t know how to fly a helicopter when this stunt was pitched. He had a pilot's licence and knew how to fly planes, but not helicopters, and not as expertly as he had to do for the film.

It takes three months of eight-hour days to become a novice helicopter pilot. But novice wouldn’t be good enough, so Tom being Tom put in the extra time to be as proficient in flying as possible and capable of performing the required stunts.

He did them all with nobody else in the chopper, meaning he had to do the manoeuvres himself while acting and operating the specially rigged cameras.

Then there were the other helicopters in the sky, with the others on camera just mere feet away from each other.

It all culminated with the big scene where Cruise needed to perform a 360-degree downward spiral manoeuvre right over the mountain region they were filming in.

It's all a bit too much really.

Honourable mentions

Here are a couple more stunts that deserved a shoutout for how crazy they are:

Underwater scene | Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation

Cruise trained with professional divers to be able to hold his breath for six minutes. If that doesn’t seem that long, try it yourself. And then try it when you’re also having to act and swim and attempt to save your co-star.

Knife fight | Mission: Impossible II

The scene looks like CGI, but it was all practical. Cruise had a knife shoved mere millimetres away from his eyeball in the movie's climactic final fight scene. One foul slip and it would've been all over.

London scramble | Mission: Impossible - Fallout

One last entry from the fan's favourite, and this time a case of Cruise injuring himself, as he broke his ankle while jumping from one building to another. Of course, being the maniac that he is, Cruise simply stood up and carried on with the scene, with that take being the one used in the movie.

Mission: Impossible on Sky Cinema

At the end of the day, while all these stunts are certified insane for Tom Cruise to do, he does it all in the name of authenticity and bringing as good a product as he possibly can to the viewers.

Cruise trained for every single one of the stunts vigorously to ensure that he could deliver in front of the camera as safely as possible.

And in his endeavours of doing so, it has created one of the most beloved action franchises in cinema.

With the latest offering out now, you can catch up on Ethan Hunt and all his previous missions with the full Mission: Impossible series available on Sky Cinema now.

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