Mission: Impossible—Dead Reckoning Part One, hits theaters next month, followed by Part Two next summer, and will likely be Tom Cruise's swan song to IMF agent Ethan Hunt. At 60, Cruise isn't getting any younger, and at some point it's simply going to be infeasible for the actor to continue doing his own stunts.
But if this is it for the Mission Impossible franchise—or at least one helmed by Cruise—then it sure looks like he plans to go out with a bang. In addition to a whopping 163-minute runtime, Cruise filmed what is being called the biggest stunt in the history of cinema, in which he base jumps a motorcycle straight off a cliff and then free falls thousands of feet.
And this was all on the first day of filming.
In the upcoming July 2023 issue of Empire Magazine, director Christopher McQuarrie discussed the non-linear method of filming, which involved shooting the stunts first and then piecing in the plot points later.
"Doing that on day one gave us all the time in the world to understand why he [Ethan] was doing what he was doing," McQuarrie told Empire. "If we sat around and tried to figure out these movies the old-fashioned way, you’d never find it, simply because it’s such a living, breathing thing."
"It’s never the easy road," Cruise added. "I have a responsibility to audiences, the studio, my crew, my cast and industry. We can’t compromise just because all of these things happened. I can’t compromise the storytelling."
EXCLUSIVE IMAGE 🚨
Tom Cruise’s bike off a cliff stunt was day one on the #MissionImpossible – Dead Reckoning Part One shoot.
"It’s never the easy road," Cruise tells Empire. "I can't compromise the storytelling."
READ MORE: https://t.co/DAg8OMEkQU pic.twitter.com/fHtAKotRwc
— Empire Magazine (@empiremagazine) June 5, 2023
To prepare for the stunt, which was filmed in Helsetkopen, Norway, Cruise logged 500 skydives and over 13,000 motocross jumps. According to a behind-the-scenes featurette released last December, the stunt involved a ramp that had to be constructed over the course of several months by a crew of highly-trained engineers and technicians, and everything had to be brought in by helicopter.
And if anyone were to assume that this would be a "one and done" stunt—well, clearly that underestimates Cruise's wherewithal. Though McQuarrie remarked that the first attempt went "absolutely beautiful—like, nothing wrong," Cruise thought he could have held onto the bike longer. When all was said and done, he pulled the stunt off six separate times.
You can see the finished product in the trailer for Mission: Impossible—Dead Reckoning Part One, below, before the film hits theaters July 12.