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Tom Cruise. Whether you love him for his acting or hate him for his scientology, you have to admit that it takes a giant pair of balls to do your own stunts. And Cruise has been doing that for years.
His most memorable stunts in his movies definitely come from the Mission: Impossible franchise. So, I decided to take ten stunts from all of the movies and rank them from "that's pretty dangerous" to "HOLY CRAP, HOW IS HE NOT DEAD?!"
First things first, this scene doesn't count.
Nor does this scene.
While they look pretty damn cool, they were done in front of green screens. I'm only gonna be doing the REAL MI stunts. The ones that could have ended Tom Cruise's life.
So, here we go. NO SPOILERS. ENJOY!
10. Knife to the Eye — Mission: Impossible 2
During the climax of Mission: Impossible 2, Ethan finds himself in a brawl with Sean Ambrose. And at one point, Cruise suggested that they do a bit where Ambrose tries to stab Ethan's eye, only to have Ethan stop him just in time.
Instead of having the knife be CGI, Cruise insisted that they connect a knife to a steel cable, and measure the distance so that the furthest the knife could go would be less than half an inch away from Cruise's real eye.
The stuntman would then grab the knife and actually stab it toward Cruise's face as hard as he could, using all his strength, in order to get a realistic reaction.
And the steel cable was the only thing that stopped Cruise from losing his right eye in this scene.
9. Rooftop Chase — Mission: Impossible – Fallout
In this exciting scene, Ethan is chasing after John Lark on foot. He is jumping from building to building. Like the other stunts on this list, this is one that Cruise actually did, with nothing but a cable attached to him just in case he fell between the buildings.
And while filming, Cruise accidentally slammed his foot against a building, breaking his ankle. However, instead of doing what any sane person would do and giving up, Cruise got back onto the building and continued to run, completing the shot.
8. Motorcycle Against Traffic — Mission: Impossible – Fallout
In one of the many thrilling action sequences in Mission: Impossible – Fallout, Ethan rides a motorcycle without a helmet.
Now, this doesn't seem like much, since it's the THIRD TIME he's done this in an MI movie. But one of the safety rigs they were gonna use for this scene broke. However, Cruise decided to ride the motorcycle anyway, driving it against traffic.
7. Downward Spiral — Mission: Impossible – Fallout
In order to film the climax of Fallout, where Ethan pursues Lark on a helicopter, Cruise decided to learn how to fly a helicopter for real. He trained for a year and a half in order to film the final action sequence in this film.
Now, if I were Cruise, I'd be perfectly happy performing this stunt in a soundstage with some air conditioning and a beautiful green screen in front of me. But I gotta hand it to him. He goes pretty far to entertain audiences.
6. Free Solo Climbing — Mission: Impossible 2
This is my favorite Ethan Hunt introduction scene of all the MI films. We get to see him free solo climbing at Dead Horse Point in Utah.
Cruise performed this for real, refusing to change the scene as he couldn't think of a better way to reintroduce Ethan. He was wearing a harness while filming this scene, but there was no safety net underneath him. If the harness failed, he'd have died.
5. Long Line — Mission: Impossible – Fallout
In yet ANOTHER awesome scene from Fallout, Ethan chases after a getaway helicopter. He successfully grabs onto the rope hanging from it, climbs to the top and falls back down to the bottom.
This stunt was done for real, in incredibly cold weather. Cruise had a line attaching him to the helicopter, but he performed the fall for real, and this looked so realistic that it successfully scared the hell out of co-star Rebecca Ferguson.
4. Hanging from a Plane — Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation
The best MI opening of all time has to be the one in Rogue Nation. In this opening scene, Ethan grabs onto a plane in order to get a package from the plane.
In order to film this scene, they strapped Cruise to the side of the plane and had the plane take off with Cruise on the side. They then digitally removed the straps in post-production. One of the best stunts I've ever seen in a movie.
3. Scaling the Burj Khalifa — Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol
One of my favorite scenes in the entire franchise is this scene from Ghost Protocol, where Ethan has to reach the server room of the Burj Khalifa by climbing on the side of it with nothing but a pair of sticky gloves.
Cruise performed this stunt with wires on the side of the real building, and at this point, I'm out of different ways to say "Tom Cruise is a badass", but since Cruise was doing this stunt over a thousand feet in the air, I think that speaks for itself.
2. Underwater — Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation
In the second of the two big stunts in Rogue Nation, Ethan dives into an underwater area in order to steal a file from the Syndicate. Cruise received training from diving specialist, Kirk Krack, in order to learn how to hold his breath for an extended amount of time.
The whole scene was done in one long take (although there were cuts in the movie), and Cruise held his breath for over six minutes to get the scene.
1. HALO Jump — Mission: Impossible – Fallout
And in my opinion, the best stunt and the best directed sequence in the MI series is a scene near the beginning of Fallout, where Ethan performs a HALO (High Altitude, Low Opening) jump into Paris with Walker.
The fact that this scene was done in one continuous take (where they were able to switch Henry Cavill for a stunt double), and that Cruise performed this jump over a hundred times from an altitude of about 25,000 feet in the air is absolutely amazing.
In fact, just watch the BTS video.
Anyways, those are the ten stunts that Tom Cruise didn't actually have to perform for real, but somehow actually did. If you haven't yet seen Fallout, GO WATCH IT!