Tom Cruise is many things: one of the biggest movie stars of our time. A passionate hater of motion-smoothing. A high-profile Scientologist. But at this point, he's best known as an action junkie who keeps finding new ways to defy death. Recently seen free-falling out of a plane while delivering some happy holiday wishes, Cruise is no stranger to entering the danger zone just for the sake of spectacle. His latest near-death experiences come courtesy of "Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One," the first in a set of movies that will mark the end of his tenure as IMF agent Ethan Hunt. And as usual, we can expect the stunts to be bigger and more dangerous than ever.
Did you think that hitting the 60 year old milestone would slow the Hollywood daredevil down? Well, think again. A behind-the-scenes video for "Dead Reckoning" proves that the concept of slowing down has totally eluded him, because this is the movie where Cruise has decided to attempt what Paramount has dubbed "The Biggest Stunt in Cinema History." Bigger than his holiday message free-fall and more dangerous than the time he hung off the wing of an in-flight plane, this stunt sees Cruise doing a motorcycle jump off a ramp at the top of a mountain and plummeting thousands of feet down into a base jump.
An Impossible Stunt For An Impossible Movie
You know how James Cameron made "Titanic" to fund his scuba-diving ambitions? I'm starting to think that the entire "Mission: Impossible" franchise is just Tom Cruise's way of fulfilling his lifelong dream of plummeting to Earth from increasingly unimaginable heights. He says so himself in the featurette, explaining, "I've wanted to do this since I was a little kid." So, just to clarify, at the same age that most of us were puttering around in sandboxes or (for us city kids) scraping our knees on pavement, Cruise was daydreaming about the joys of riding a motorcycle off a Norway cliff? Sounds about right.
Most of the featurette is an extended buildup to Cruise's big stunt, with the star and crew members walking us through all the details and incredible levels of preparation that went into pulling it off. Many test jumps are practiced, calculations run, and an entire ramp is build atop a Norway cliff. Cruise himself logged 500 skydives and over 13,000 motocross jumps leading up to the big day. "Don't be careful," Cruise tells the camera at one point. "Be confident." But seriously, kids, if you're planning to do a motorcycle jump off a cliff, do be careful. Or don't do it at all.
Naturally, before we get to see the stunt, a crew member steps in to articulate the stakes: "The only things you really have to avoid while doing a stunt like this are serious injury or death." He then goes on to detail some of the many things that could go wrong, outlining the various dangers before a jovial Cruise proceeds to show us how it's done. He speeds down the ramp (which looks pretty arrow from a distance), jumps off, then plummets towards the ground before pulling his parachute (in a very tight six-second window).
Sixth Time's The Charm
Throughout all of this, director Christopher McQuarrie looks positively solemn, clearly worrying that he just sent action star Tom Cruise careening towards his death. Thankfully, everything works out. In fact, it goes so well, Cruise decides to do it again. Five more times.
The definition of "committing to the bit," Cruise isn't satisfied with cheating death once in a single day and decides to keep going. Unsurprisingly, the multiple takes seem like they are entirely his choice — McQuarrie and crew appear satisfied with the first shot, but Cruise radios in to explain why he wants to go again, saying: "I think I can hold to the bike a little longer." McQuarrie, a sane man, later watches Cruise take the jump and looks flabbergasted, asking, "How many is he gonna do!?"
"Pretty much the biggest stunt in cinema history," one crew member notes towards the end, while looking (rightfully) astonished. "Tom Cruise just rode a motorcycle, off a cliff, six times today."
The fact that they're willing to show off the details of this set piece is a big hint that it happens early in the film. And given the grandeur of the stunt, the intense planning process and Cruise's excitement, the final two movies in this franchise won't hold back when it comes to blowing our minds with more impossible action.
"Mission: Impossible: Dead Reckoning – Part One" is set to his theaters on July 14, 2023. You can watch the full behind-the-scenes featurette below.
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