Director Christopher McQuarrie makes it clear: “Yes, Tom Cruise is risking his life filming these sequences.” The American knows what he is saying: he has directed three of the seven Mission Impossible already released —today, Wednesday, it hits theaters Mission Impossible. Deadly sentence. Part 1- and has the follow-up to the latter lined up for release next year (“the one where Cruise has gone even further”). The actor has specialists who replace him on some occasions and stunt doubles, but when the time comes for the set piece of action, when the camera is glued to his face in a jump, fight, race or shootout, he asks to do them. With mandatory security measures, although with the obvious risk of something going wrong. For this reason, here is a review of the 13 moments in which Cruise —who turned 61 on Monday the 3rd— has risked his life on screen for the good of the film show.
Climbing the tallest skyscraper in the world in Mission Impossible. ghost protocol (2011). The Burj Khalifa, in Dubai, is the tallest skyscraper in the world since 2004, with its 828 meters. Seven years later, Ethan Hunt or Tom Cruise, which is the same, climbed it, broke some of its windows and hung from it under the direction of Brad Bird. Both had previously consulted with specialists, other climbers and architects how to film the sequence in the building. A curiosity: the day before the filming of this set piece, Cruise asked Bird to climb to its point without a harness or safety and to take a promotional photo. The portrait is scary.
the knife Mission: Impossible 2 (2000). The final fight on the coast between Tom Cruise and the villain on duty, played by Dougray Scott (an actor whose filming delays prevented him from playing Wolverine and his career went down the drain), may seem minor, but it has his intricacies. John Woo, who directed this Mission Impossible, he wanted to give the brawl strength and truth. At one point, Scott gets on top of a prone Cruise and tries to plunge a hunting knife into his skull through the eye. The star asked Scott to push the knife (which was real) as hard as he could, and even though the object was attached to a wire, the tip of it stayed an inch from his pupil. One wrong move and…
climbing on Mission: Impossible 2 (2000). The start of Woo’s film isn’t bad either, with Hunt free climbing at Dead Horse Point in Utah. It was shot in five days, with cables holding Cruise, who was replaced in the jump by one of his stuntmen, Keith Campbell. It’s too unbelievable even for the universe MY. Although the movie launched the actor as an action movie star, he hasn’t aged well.
The fall of the Shanghai skyscraper in Mission: Impossible 3 (2006). How will Hunt gain access to a skyscraper where they hide his wife, kidnapped in Shanghai? Well, after flying around several of them, letting himself fall down the inclined façade of one of them. To JJ Abrams, Director of M: I 3, he liked the idea, but they shot it in a hangar with a green screen to protect the safety of the star. Now, in the end, Cruise did have his moment of glory: he dropped before the screen and attached to a crane, from almost 20 meters high so that his head ended up just 50 centimeters from the ground. Very scarce if the cable had failed.
The helicopter chase in Mission Impossible. fallout (2018). McQuarrie says that on set they repeat over and over again, “Don’t be careful, be competent.” Because there are millions of variables at stake that can complicate the filming of any sequence. In this high-speed helicopter chase through New Zealand’s Southern Alps, Cruise is both acting and piloting between steep slopes without any special effects.
The Aquarium Explosion Mission Impossible (nineteen ninety six). Prague, Hunt surrounded by enemies and has only one way out: a spectacular escape. Brian de Palma was going to use a double in this sequence in which the protagonist runs out of a restaurant, blowing up a huge aquarium as an evasive maneuver. But he didn’t like how he was going to look and he asked Cruise if he minded filming it. Not at all, despite the 16 tons of water roaring after him, and the glass splinters from the aquarium walls that could injure him.
high altitude parachute jump Mission Impossible. fallout (2018). This movie is full of great Cruise moments. Like the one that made him the first actor to star in a real HALO jump on screen —acronym for High Altitude Low Opening, that is, a launch at a high altitude followed by a rapid descent in free fall by the skydiver, with an opening of the low level parachute. After a year of preparation, the actor jumped with a special helmet from more than 8,000 meters high that supplied him with oxygen and allowed his face to be seen. Before launch he breathed pure oxygen for 20 minutes (thus avoiding problems with decompression) and then left the C-17 carrying him.
The car centimeters away jack reacher (2012). The first of two installments of jack reacher it was also directed by McQuarrie, and he says that sometimes the most dangerous moments are the most unexpected. In a sequence like this thriller, Rosamund Pike drives a car that backs out of a parking space, and when she straightens out she suddenly discovers that Cruise is in front: “These are the most dangerous moments, because Rosamund is an actress, not a driver, and if she presses the wrong pedal or not measure well the distance at which he will leave Tom’s car, he would run over him. And it is over”. That is to say, she was in more danger there than in the fast-paced chase at the heart of the film, which ends with a very funny trick.
The plane taking off with Hunt hanging on Mission Impossible. secret nation (2015). “Benji, open the door!” Ethan Hunt yells as he dangles from the outside of a Russian A400 cargo plane taking off and climbing. In reality, Cruise is hooking in a harness, which would not have protected him from being hit by a rock on takeoff or a bird in flight. It is one of the iconic images of the saga. And he repeated it in half a dozen takes.
Broken ankle on the rooftops of London in Mission Impossible. fallout (2018). Another of the franchise house brands MY is, since its first installment, Hunt’s races across the roofs of any building or city. This time it was London, and in one apparent easy leap he traversed a street, hopping from one rooftop to another. But he underestimated him and broke his ankle hitting a wall. This accident was staged on screen, including the ending, with Cruise dragging himself. Filming stopped for nine weeks and the studio paid an additional 80 million euros in extra costs for the delay.
The six and a half minute immersion in Mission Impossible. secret nation (2015). He trained to lower his heart rate and thus consume less oxygen. And she did it. Cruise stayed on filming this underwater sequence for six and a half minutes. In the promotion of the premiere, in the program The Graham Norton Show, The actor said that the experience was really unpleasant and that after filming he had moments when his body stopped breathing unconsciously, for which he had to “restart the automatic breathing system.” For a few years, Cruise has held the world record for freediving among actors (if the Guinness admits it), until Kate Winslet on the set of the new Avatar It will reach 7 minutes and 15 seconds.
The plane crash of The Mummy (2017). Tom Cruise not only lives on Mission Impossible. In The Mummy he stars in a powerful sequence in which he tries to survive a plane crash, as the military airplane descends out of control in free fall. How they did it? They filmed in a plane used by astronauts to train in zero gravity. By the way, the whole idea for the sequence was from… Cruise.
Mission Impossible. Deadly sentence. Part 1 (2023). Christopher McQuarrie says that what scared them the most on this shoot was not the jump (made on the first day of principal photography) that they have publicized on networks, but their spiral descent with a parachute and their abrupt landing at high speed: “It is one of the most dangerous sports in the world, because it is unpredictable”. In addition, Cruise does it attached to a steep hillside. “We live it behind the cameras with terror,” concludes the filmmaker. Cruise accelerates on a motorcycle up a mountain (a ramp built in Norway, after rehearsing another in England) and when he reaches the end he releases the vehicle, flies straight against the wind for about six seconds and then opens the parachute, with several cameras on drones and a helicopter filming their movements. He didn’t do it once. He did six, to fine tune his closeness to the bike.
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