‘Free Solo’ Subject Alex Honnold Reviews Iconic Rock Climbing Scenes, Even Tom Cruise

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Zack Sharf
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Mission: Impossible – Fallout” might have earned the Tom Cruise-starring franchise its best reviews and biggest box office yet, but one thing it was missing was a better opening scene than “Mission: Impossible 2.” John Woo’s 2000 action sequel begins with Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt free solo climbing at Utah’s Dead Horse Point. Cruise performed the scene with wires that were digitally removed in post-production to make it appear as if his character was climbing without any wires.

The opening of “Mission: Impossible 2” was achieved with digital wizardry, but “Free Solo” star Alex Honnold free solo climbs for real on camera throughout much of Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin’s documentary “Free Solo.” The National Geographic release chronicles Honnold as he prepares to climb El Capitan in Yosemite National Park in June 2017.

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GQ recently got Honnold on camera to break down some of the most iconic rock climbing scenes in movie history, including that “Mission: Impossible 2” opening. According to Honnold, Cruise and the “Mission: Impossible” stunt team did a pretty accurate job in depicting the basics of climbing. Using the knee to rest on a small rock ledge, for instance, is exactly what a professional rock climber would do. Honnold said the scene is “totally over the top” but accurate nonetheless.

“Free Solo” is currently the frontrunner for the Best Documentary Oscar after winning prizes from the IDA Documentary Awards, the National Board of Review, Cinema Eye Honors, and the British Academy Film Awards. The documentary was also nominated for the PGA and DGA prizes for Best Documentary. Watch Honnold weigh in on cinema’s best and worst rock climbing scenes in the video below.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R7qSiEKntQA]