Top 20 Most Intense Tom Cruise Stunts

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Top 20 Most Intense Tom Cruise Stunts

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Nathan Sharp
Do NOT try these at home! For this list, we'll be looking at the craziest, most dangerous, and most outlandish stunts performed by Tom Cruise. Our countdown includes “Mission: Impossible”, “Edge of Tomorrow”, “Top Gun: Maverick”, “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation”, “Mission: Impossible – Fallout”, and more!
Transcript

Top 20 most intense Tom Cruise stunts


Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 20 most intense Tom Cruise stunts.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the craziest, most dangerous, and most outlandish stunts performed by Tom Cruise.

Which of these stunts did you find the most entertaining? Let us know in the comments below!

#20: Water Tank Explosion

“Mission: Impossible” (1996)
Sure, the stunts of “Mission: Impossible” may seem positively rudimentary compared to what came later, but they’re still impressive. In one of the movie’s best action set pieces, numerous water tanks explode inside a restaurant, forcing Ethan to evade a giant surge of water. This was actually Cruise’s idea, because he wanted the film to contain a kickass action scene that would elevate heart rates. Nothing has changed. The stunt was originally performed with a stuntman, but director Brian De Palma was unhappy with how it looked. He then asked Cruise to do it himself, despite the dangers of exploding glass and sixteen tons of surging water. Knowing Cruise, we’re sure that he happily consented.

#19: The Battle Scenes

“Edge of Tomorrow” (2014)
Not even bulky battle suits can stop Tom Cruise from doing his own stunts. Both Cruise and Emily Blunt donned the battle suits for real, each of which weighed over 80 pounds and could require up to half an hour to crawl into. The suits were specifically designed to show the actor’s faces and therefore lend a degree of authenticity to the movie’s action sequences. If it looks like Cruise is being tossed and thrown around inside an 80+ pound exoskeleton, that’s because he was. We’re sure every possible precaution went into his safety, but count us out. Those suits look like they could squash a neck in a second.

#18: Cable Suspension

“Mission: Impossible” (1996)
Even today, the defining image of the “Mission: Impossible” franchise is a black-clad Tom Cruise suspended an inch above a shiny white floor. Not only is the color contrast visually pleasing, but the image just exudes suspense and spy movie thrills. It’s evident that this is actually Tom Cruise being suspended, and while it’s not one of the more dangerous things he’s done, it’s easily one of the most iconic. Cruise had a hard time pulling off the stunt, because he couldn’t balance his body with the cable and his face kept slamming into the floor. To remedy the problem, Cruise put British pound coins into his shoes to counterbalance his own body weight.

#17: Abandoning the Cockpit

“American Made” (2017)
Only Tom Cruise can talk producers into letting him fly a plane. In any other movie, this would be seen as a monumental safety risk that could result in the star’s death. But Cruise has a certain power in Hollywood, so he was actually allowed to fly a light aircraft for real. But it gets even crazier. In one scene, Cruise’s character Barry Seal abandons the cockpit to dump drugs out of his plane. According to director Doug Liman, Cruise actually did this too. Liman was flying alongside Cruise when he performed the stunt, and by going to the back of the plane, he left it completely unmanned. As Liman told Yahoo, Cruise went beyond an “already outrageous” stunt. That pretty much sums him up.

#16: Thrown Into a Car

“Mission: Impossible III” (2006)
The modern “Mission: Impossible” bombast really began with “III.” This is when the series ramped up the action set pieces, and this is when Cruise really started to go crazy with the stunts. In the movie’s signature scene, Ethan is ambushed on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge–Tunnel. Shortly after running out of the truck, a missile slams into the vehicle and the shockwave sends Ethan careening into a nearby car. This stunt was actually performed by Cruise, with a wire yanking the running actor into the parked car. The explosion caused by the missile and shattering windows were added in post, but the stunt was very real.

#15: Flying in a Military Jet

“Top Gun: Maverick” (2022)
Tom Cruise is just living it up. The man has lived ten lifetimes and has crossed off countless bucket list items along the way. To make the flying scenes in this “Top Gun” sequel as authentic as possible, Tom Cruise and his co-stars actually flew inside fighter jets. Various IMAX cameras were placed inside the speeding aircraft, capturing both the dizzying sights and the actors’ genuine struggles. This required extensive training on the actors’ parts, because they were hitting up to eight Gs of force. This is enough to make someone vomit and even pass out, as is evident from the behind-the-scenes promos. This is what separates Tom Cruise movies from everything else.

#14: Cliffside Motorcycle Chase

“Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” (2015)
The “Mission: Impossible” franchise knows how to execute a great chase sequence, and “Rogue Nation” contains one of the all-time best. Ethan chases Ilsa Faust (ill-suh fao-st) through a winding mountain road populated by massive drops that could kill a person in seconds. Naturally, it was Cruise himself who hopped on the bike, sped through the winding road, and took incredibly sharp turns while wearing nothing but jeans and a tropical shirt. In fact, the stunt team actually disabled the safety features on all the bikes to make the footage more exciting. And therein lies the magic of Tom Cruise - making something even more dangerous than it already is just to get a cool shot.

#13: Shanghai Bungee Jump

“Mission: Impossible III” (2006)
Many people pay good money for what Tom Cruise gets paid to do. Such are the bonuses of being a megastar and professional stuntman. In one of “Mission: Impossible III’s” greatest scenes, Ethan bungee jumps off Shanghai’s Bank of China Tower before slamming into and sliding down a wall of windows. Cruise performed the initial bungee jump himself, and this is evident simply by watching the movie. In one smooth shot, the camera lingers on Cruise’s nervous face before tracking him across and over the side of the building. We’re getting vertigo just watching the darned jump, never mind actually doing it.

#12: Car Chase

“Jack Reacher” (2012)
In the “Jack Reacher” novels, Reacher is described as being 6’5, 250lbs. As such, fans weren’t exactly thrilled to hear that Tom Cruise, who stands just 5 feet 7 inches, would play the iconic character in the cinematic adaptation. However, Cruise more than made up for the height disparity by performing all of his own driving stunts in the film’s adrenaline fueled chase sequence. To call this stunt dangerous would be a gross understatement, as it not only required Cruise to pull off a handful of high-speed maneuvers, but also required him to smash into walls and cars while dodging oncoming traffic. If only he did Uber…

#11: Knife Near Eye

“Mission: Impossible 2” (2000)
In this film’s climactic fight scene, IMF agent Ethan Hunt finds himself locked in a battle-to-the-death with antagonist Sean Ambrose. After some truly vicious hand-to-hand combat Ambrose pulls out a knife and leaps at Hunt, who manages to stop it from turning his eyeball into a kebab at literally the last possible second. And while director John Woo wasn’t exactly thrilled to hear that Cruise wanted to do the stunt himself, he must have been pleased with the final result, which makes it perfectly clear whose eyeball is on the line. If we are to glean anything from this scene it’s that not all stunts require car chases or explosions to be considered insane.

#10: Motorcycle Chase

“Knight and Day” (2010)
Even though it’s one of Tom Cruise’s lesser movies, “Knight and Day” still features a sensational action sequence. Roy and June, played by Cruise and Cameron Diaz, race through the running of the bulls on a motorcycle to save Paul Dano’s Simon. While they didn’t actually drive through the bulls, the sequence still contains a lot of great stunt riding from Cruise. One stunt a bit later in the sequence was actually Cruise’s idea. To shoot at goons behind them, Cruise flips Diaz to the front of the bike and drives with her facing behind him. The actor is always looking for fun ways to spruce up a scene, and this is a great example of his work ethic.

#9: (Almost) Off With His Head

“The Last Samurai” (2003)
To prepare for his role in “The Last Samurai,” Tom Cruise underwent multiple months of martial arts training, a fact that isn’t hard to discern while watching the film. However, something that is hard to see is that Cruise was almost decapitated when a mechanical horse malfunctioned. The scene called for Cruise and Japanese actor Hiroyuki Sanada to charge at each other on robo-horses, with Sanada’s horse stopping at a specific mark to ensure Cruise’s head remained atop his shoulders. Alas the horse must have blown a fuse because Sanada, and more importantly his sword, kept going; and when it finally stopped it was just inches from Cruise’s neck. Talk about a close call…

#8: Hanging on a Wire

“Minority Report” (2002)
Steven Spielberg’s sci-fi noir takes place in a futuristic world, one in which the police can stop crimes before they’re even committed. Cruise plays John Anderton, a PreCrime officer who goes on the run after being accused of future-murder. While being chased by a group of jetpack sporting officers Cruise’s character must make a tough decision: take a leap of faith or be arrested. Obviously he goes for the former and to pull it off Cruise was suspended with the help of an 80-foot rig and dropped at high speed towards another stuntman. With the help of more than a mile’s worth of cables, Cruise was dropped then dragged across a massive soundstage…that must have hurt.

#7: Hanging & Falling Off a Helicopter

“Mission: Impossible – Fallout” (2018)
The “Mission: Impossible” movies always have great climaxes, and “Fallout” contains a magnificent helicopter chase that actually saw Cruise flying the aircraft through the snowy mountains. The chase begins with a pulse-pounding helicopter jacking. To perform the stunt, Cruise ran towards the helicopter, grabbed onto its dangling rope, and was lifted dozens of feet into the air. He proceeded to dangle from the flying helicopter with a safety line that was digitally erased in post. Eventually Ethan slips from the helicopter’s landing skid and free falls dozens of feet onto a net below. Cruise actually performed this free fall numerous times, having missed the net on multiple occasions. And to think, Cruise is still doing insane stunts like this in his 50s.

#6: Rock Climbing

“Mission: Impossible 2” (2000)
How do you re-introduce a character like Ethan Hunt to filmgoers after a four-year absence? By having him free-climb a section of Dead Horse Point State Park, of course! Despite the concerns of the studio, Cruise insisted on doing the extremely dangerous stunt himself and without a safety net. All he had was a harness and a few cables that were digitally removed in post production. Even so, the stunt was so stressful that director John Woo refused to watch. At one point, Cruise tore a muscle in his shoulder while jumping 15 feet from one section of rock to another. The final result is a scene so thrilling it gives us goosebumps.

#5: Plane Sequence

“The Mummy” (2017)
“The Mummy” may not have hit the mark with critics, but you’d be hard pressed to argue that this scene, in which a plane dramatically crashes to the earth, isn’t worth the price of admission. Initially the scene was supposed to be filmed using wires and a rotating set…until Tom Cruise stepped in. He insisted that it be shot inside of the Vomit Comet, a zero gravity weightlessness simulator that more than lived up to its name during filming. 64 takes and a whole lot of puking later and they had their shot. Acting in these conditions must have been brutal, but as per usual Tom Cruise managed to pull it off.

#4: Holding Breath for Three Minutes - Underwater

“Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” (2015)
The fifth entry in the “MI” franchise may as well have been called “Mission: Impossible – Tom Cruise Does a Bunch of Insane Stunts”. In order to accurately pull off a single long take in which Cruise’s character attempts to steal a secure file from an underwater vault, the action star straight up learned how to hold his breath underwater for three minutes. As if that weren’t already mind boggling enough, stunt coordinator Wade Eastwood claims that Cruise pushed his own physical limitations even further, learning to hold his breath for 6 whole minutes! The jury’s still out on whether or not Cruise is part fish…

#3: HALO Jump

“Mission: Impossible – Fallout” (2018)
This stunt has been in the back of Tom Cruise’s mind for years. And now that he’s established himself as Hollywood’s preeminent actor / stuntman, he was finally able to convince a studio to allow him to try it. A High Altitude Low Opening, or Halo Jump, is used by military personnel to sneak into a country undetected and requires them to jump from a height of 25,000 feet, only opening their parachutes when they reach 2000 feet. To pull it off, Cruise made over a 100 jumps from a C-17 aircraft supplied by the United Arab Emirates. By successfully accomplishing the stunt, Cruise became the first actor to do a Halo Jump on camera.

#2: Hanging Onto a Plane - During Takeoff

“Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” (2015)
“If something went wrong I can’t get into the airplane till we land.” That’s how Tom Cruise illustrated just how hazardous this stunt was during a behind the scenes featurette for “Rogue Nation”. And he’s right. This stunt was so insane, so death-defyingly dangerous that Cruise…did it eight times. That’s how long it took them to get the perfect shot. As he clings to the side of the aircraft, Cruise can only watch as his legs begin to flail about helplessly, overpowered by wind as the plane ascends to 5000 feet. If you’re wondering how this didn’t take the top spot on our list just wait; we’ve got something even crazier to show you.

#1: Climbing The Burj Khalifa

“Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” (2011)
Standing 2,722 feet tall, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai is the world’s tallest structure. So naturally, Tom Cruise felt the need to run, climb, slide and rappel down its exterior from hundreds of floors up while filming “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol”. Being suspended over a thousand feet in the air would make most people cry for their mommas, but behind the scenes footage shows a totally chilled out Cruise tackling the stunt as if he were part bird. The stunt was deemed so dangerous that Cruise’s insurance company forbid him from doing it, so he fired them and a hired a new one. He’s come a long way from Oprah’s couch.
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