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For over 40 years Tom Cruise has proven himself a box-office drawcard like few others. His status as one of Hollywood’s most successful leading men comes not only off the back of a string of amazing performances, but also from an increasing willingness to put himself in harms way to film some of the biggest stunts ever captured on film. Whether it be strapping himself into the cockpit of his own P-51 Mustang fighter, free-climbing buildings, or hurtling himself off the edge of a cliff, the Mission: Impossible star is no stranger to that risk-filled highway that leads straight into the danger zone.
With Cruise’s latest stunt-filled blockbuster Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One now in Australian cinemas, we thought it might be timely to take a better look at some of the most insane stunts he has participated in over the years.
Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018)
During the climax of 2018’s Mission: Impossible outing Cruise’s Ethan Hunt can be seen climbing into a helicopter and piloting it on a high-speed chase through the Southern Alps of New Zealand (standing in for the Himalayas). While Henry Cavill may have handed the controls of his chopper over to a professional, Cruise was adamant that he pilot his own aircraft whilst remaining in character. Training for three solid months to acquire the flight skills needed to pull off the intricate manoeuvres, Cruise was later able to add ace helicopter pilot to his ever-growing resumé.
Top Gun: Maverick (2022)
In a world where computer generated special effects are Hollywood’s standard means of creating high-speed aerial acrobatics, Cruise and his Top Gun: Maverick co-stars took things to new levels by jumping into the cockpit of real-life fighter jets. While the US Navy would ultimately prohibit Cruise from jumping behind the controls of a US $70 million Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet (and not for lack of trying on Cruise’s part), they did permit him and his co-stars to experience the full impact of a supersonic jet in the craft’s passenger seats.
Moreover, Cruise himself managed to experience the full force of a 4 g take-off (comparable to what astronauts’ experience during launch) as he was hurtled off the edge of an aircraft carrier via a catapult not once, but six times.
Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015)
Cruise’s thrill-seeking tendencies are not only limited to the skies, and 2015’s Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation saw him test the limits of human endurance underwater. While the average person can only hold their breath for 30 to 90 seconds, free diving experts were brought in to train Cruise how to hold his own for up to six and half minutes.
However, those underwater scenes would not be Cruise’s only impressive feat throughout the film. Seen clutching onto the side of an A400 Airbus cargo plane, Cruise had to be harnessed to the side of the aircraft which was taken up to an elevation of 1.52 kilometres travelling at 260 miles per hour. Where most daredevils would be content to try such a stunt only once, Cruise repeated the feat over an impressive eight takes.
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011)
The Burj Khalifa skyscraper in Dubai boasts the current record for being the world’s tallest building. Standing at an impressive 829.8 metres, it dwarfed the previous record holder Taipei 101 when construction officially finished in 2009.
Yet it had only just finished being built when Cruise took it upon himself to scale the side of the colossal structure for Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol. The studio even needed to attain special permits to drill into the building’s floors and walls to place strategic fixings and break around 26 windows on the brand-new tower.
Ever the showman, on one day of filming Cruise even posed for a photo atop the structure without any harness or restraint.
Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning (2023)
This year’s Mission: Impossible outing is no less thrilling, and true to form Cruise has put his life on the line to create what is being touted as cinema’s biggest stunt yet. As trailers reveal, Cruise’s Ethan Hunt is shown riding a motorcycle off the side of a cliff only to base jump to safety. True to form, Cruise trained for months in order to perfect the sequence, committing to over 500 skydives and 13,000 motocross jumps to hone the skills he would need to bring the final stunt together.
Of course, for Cruise once is never enough, and he would go on to repeat the stunt a total of six times on production’s official first day of shooting.
Going forward, the only thing likely to be even more insane than what Cruise has already done, will be the stunts he has planned for 2024’s Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part Two. Meanwhile, Cruise’s latest action-filled adventure, Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One, is in Australian cinemas now.