He is the closest we’ve got to a Peter Pan — if Peter Pan was an adrenaline junkie who did multi-million-dollar stunts. As the age-defying action hero, Tom Cruise is known for his dedication and commitment to performing his own stunts in movies. Despite the risks involved, Cruise pushes boundaries and delivers incredible, adrenaline-fuelled action scenes. His death-defying feats in the Mission Impossible franchise are practically a genre in their own right.
Ahead of Mission: Impossible 7, here are some of the bonkers stunts that Tom Cruise has performed in movies, showcasing his fearless and adventurous spirit.
In Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (2011), Cruise took on the challenge of scaling the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the world's tallest building. With no stunt double, Cruise suspended himself from the building's exterior, showcasing his incredible agility and fearlessness. If you didn’t have vertigo already, this stunt will make you feel like you do.
For Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation (2015), Cruise performed a jaw-dropping stunt that had him clinging to the side of a plane during takeoff. Yes, he actually did this. With the plane actually taking off from an actual runway. With the aircraft reaching speeds of 140 mph, Cruise risked his life to deliver an incredibly realistic scene.
In Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, Cruise held his breath underwater for an astonishing six minutes (Kate Winslet recently broke his record by holding her breath for seven minutes and 15 seconds) to film a complex heist sequence. This incredible feat required intense training and showcased Cruise's dedication to delivering mind-blowing action sequences.
During the filming of Mission Impossible: Fallout (2018), Cruise rode a motorcycle through the narrow streets of Paris, weaving through traffic and performing daring maneuvers. No one would actually zip through those lanes and bylanes at that breakneck speed under normal conditions, but when it comes to a Tom Cruise-stunt, ‘normal’ is not on the table. The high-speed chase scene demonstrated Cruise's remarkable riding skills and ability to handle dangerous situations.
For some of us, a halo is that golden, shiny accessory perched on the head of an angel. For Tom Cruise, it’s a high altitude low opening (HALO) jump. What does he mean by “high altitude”? The actor jumped from a plane at an altitude of 25,000 feet. If anyone had doubts about Cruise's eagerness to perform extreme actions in a way that feels realistic despite being completely untethered to realism, this is the stunt to watch.
This is one of the most memorable scenes Hollywood has given us in recent decades — mostly for the visual that shows the monumental grandeur of the enormous cliff and the tiny human scaling it. It’s human ego and determination captured in one frame. Cruise took rock climbing skills to new heights (literally) by latching on to the dauntingly beautiful Dead Horse Point in Utah for the second Mission Impossible film. With no safety harness or stunt double, Cruise displayed his physical strength and endurance while no doubt making many who were watching him reach for their anxiety medication.
In all fairness, dangling out of a train is just an average day in the life of an average Mumbaikar on a local train, but the train in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol is a little more daunting than the Borivli Fast. The stunt had Cruise risking his life as he clung on to the exterior of a high-speed, moving train. Intense, dangerous and extreme, this scene feels even more miraculous when you keep in mind Cruise was 49 years old when this film came out.
Some people take a leap of faith, Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One (2023) jumps off a cliff, avec motorcycle. In case you were wondering, the actor is 60 years old. He’s said in interviews that topping the craziness of the last stunt with a new one, particularly for Mission Impossible films, has now become an occupational hazard for him. It’ll be interesting to see if this solo stunt feels as memorable as the other motorbike scenes in this franchise.
In addition to being an action director’s dream (or nightmare, depending upon your perspective), Tom Cruise is also an accomplished pilot. His flying skills were most recently on display in Top Gun: Maverick (2022), but in Mission: Impossible Fallout, he and a helicopter had an unforgettable on-screen moment. Cruise flew the helicopter through the treacherous terrain of the Southern Alps, highlighting his piloting skills while keeping the audience at the edge of their seat.
In the first film of the franchise, Cruise's character Ethan Hunt escapes his enemies by causing an aquarium to explode in a restaurant. The scene begins with Ethan looking increasingly upset (something that’s pointed out by the bad guy sitting opposite him) and then, he flings what looks like a strip of chewing gum at the giant aquarium near them. A waiter looks at the splat of (fake) gum with wide-eyed shock and then, one beat later, the restaurant is a mess of water and glass. By Mission Impossible standards, it’s almost modest in terms of scale but it’ll make you look suspiciously at aquariums for ever after.