Tom Cruise is best known for his action-adventure roles in movies like Mission Impossible, mostly because he has recently almost exclusively acted in some of the hugest, best action movies of recent years The actor has an unparalleled work ethic and meticulous dedication to the art. Many actors slow down as they age, but Tom Cruise only gets better at his craft. Every year he takes on a new project that is bigger and more dangerous than the year before.
We love watching larger than life heroes on the big screen, but there is nothing worse than a movie that breaks its own believability. Something about Cruise’s publicized skills as one of the action movie stars who do their own stunts adds an element of realism and an extra layer of suspense to his already thrilling movies. Cruise’s unparalleled work ethic and dedication to his craft makes him able to push the boundaries of acting to dangerous new heights. Here are the best and most dangerous Tom Cruise stunts to get your heart racing.
8. The Mummy: Free Fall
The Mummy (2017) starts with a team of archeologists bringing a mummy back from an excavation. When a strange flock of birds attacks their plane, Nick Morton and Jenny Halsey find themselves in a free-fall. As usual, Tom Cruise wanted to do the stunt for real. An airplane used to train astronauts took Cruise, co-star Annabelle Wallis, and a small crew up 25,000 feet in the air to achieve zero-g. The plane free-fell for 22 seconds before landing on the ground, and the entire stunt was difficult to perform and film, largely because of the inability to really practice and replicate that practice beforehand.
7. Edge of Tomorrow: Stunts in Suites
According to ScreenRant, Emily Blunt cried the first time she put on the costume for this movie. Usually such elaborate and heavy suits would be digitally added onto the characters after the fact, but Tom Cruise never does things halfway. The metal armor in The Edge of Tomorrow weighed 85 pounds, and it weighed on the actors both physically and emotionally. The actors were attached to cables to help them move around through the set more easily. This stunt may not have been Cruise’s most dangerous, but acting through the cumbersome costume is still a great feat in of itself. He manages to be affable, fun, frightened, and extremely engaging throughout Edge of Tomorrow, which remains one of the best Tom Cruise movies of all time.
6. Mission Impossible Rogue Nation: Underwater Vault
In Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, Ethan Hunt breaks into an elaborately secured underwater vault. Of Course, Tom Cruise insisted on learning to actually hold his breath long enough to complete the stunt. Tom Cruise learned to hold his breath for over six minutes by the time he completed training. Usually actors only hold their breath for ten seconds at a time while filming underwater scenes, and everything is then edited together. The stunt was filmed in giant pool of water 20 feet deep, and Cruise himself had to convince the safety and compliance officer to allow the actor to preform the stunt. Cruise actually blacked out a few times during filming, according to stunt coordinator Wade Eastwood.
5. Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol: Climbing the Burj Khalifa
This is one of Cruise’s most controversial stunts. In Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, Ethan Hunt climbs the Curj Khalifa (one of the tallest buildings in the world) and breaks in from the outside in order to avoid an intense security system. Cruise wanted to climb the exterior of the building, but the production’s insurance wouldn’t have it. The actor found his own insurance company to insure him for the stunt after the production’s wouldn’t, and did it without the approval from the film’s safety professionals. After Cruise crashed head-first into the building, Skydance Production CEO David Ellison memorably recounted:
In true Tom fashion, while we were all arguing amongst ourselves about how we were the largest idiots known to mankind for putting ourselves in this situation, Tom reset back to one with the stunt guys and nailed it perfectly on the second rehearsal. And we all kind of looked at each other and were like, ‘Well, that’s why he’s Tom Cruise.’ We shot it the next day. We shot it twice and it was spectacular.
Regardless of whether you agree with Cruise’s tactics or not, everyone agrees that the stunt looks phenomenal on the big screen.
4. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation: Dangling from a Plane
In Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, Ethan Hunt sneaks onto a plane and waits for Benji (his tech support) to open the door. Benji doesn’t open the door in time, and Ethan is left dangling from the plane while it takes off. In real life, Tom Cruise literally hung from the plane as it took off. In an excellent little featurette on the scene, Cruise states that he was so nervous for this stunt, he couldn’t sleep the night before. Luckily, all the proper safety precautions were followed, and Cruise survived another day.
3. Mission Impossible Fallout: The Halo Jump
Production for this film famously shut down after Tom Cruise broke his ankle jumping form one skyscraper to another. However, the much more dangerous stunt of the movie was Cruise’s Halo jump. A Halo jump is a high altitude low open jump from a plane, and Cruise was the first actor ever to do it. According to this featurette by Paramount Pictures, Cruise jumped out of the plane at 25,000 feet. Not only did Cruise do the stunt himself, but he also needed to position himself carefully close to the camera and other stunt doubles in order to act the scene out.
Because the scene took place at night, the crew could only practice and film this scene once per day just before the sun set. The scene comes when Ethan Hunt and his partner need to land in Paris quickly but undetected. It adds suspense and intensity to the already fast-paced Mission Impossible: Fallout movie.
2. Top Gun Maverick: Low Flying
Some of Cruise’s best stunts are yet to come, but we should get to see one of them later this summer. Top Gun: Maverick is the anticipated sequel to the 1986 film, Top Gun. Cruise will return as Pete “Maverick” Mitchel to train a new group of pilots for a special mission. Joseph Kosinski, the director for Top Gun: Maverick, said that the Navy gave Tom Cruise special permission for some stunts in the film. We get to see a glimpse of Cruise flying at dangerously low attitudes in the latest trailer. The director also said that Cruise is the first ever to do a real launch off a carrier and land on a carrier in a movie.
1 Mission Impossible Seven: Bike Jump
At CinemaCon, behind-the-scenes footage of Cruise’s biggest stunt yet appeared, which was being filmed for Mission Impossible 7. Tom Cruise rode a motorcycle off a cliff in Norway in order to shoot an ambiguous shot for the film. Some sources say Cruise practiced the jump 13,000 times and practiced skydiving 500 times to ensure he could get the real thing right. Filming the stunt at such heights seemed to be almost as difficult. The director of photography practiced using new cutting edge cameras during each of these takes to make sure he could actually film the stunt when Cruise finally preformed it on location. The film crew built multiple ramps so that Cruise could work his way up from jumping off a small height to jumping off the mountains.
We don’t know where this stunt will fit into the new movie, and we still know very little about the movie’s plot. Mission Impossible 7‘s release date has been pushed back several times due to COVID, but hopefully those delays are behind us, and we will all get to watch Cruise defy gravity on July 14, 2023.
By Evadne Hendrix