Much like the Fast and Furious movies, the Mission: Impossible movies are always raising the bar. First Tom Cruise climbs up the Burj Khalifa, then hangs off the side of an aeroplane, then dives out of an aeroplane higher than should be humanly possible. And that trend will continue with Mission: Impossible 7, currently scheduled for release May 26, 2022.
During Paramount’s presentation at CinemaCon 2021, exhibitors were treated to a 10-minute video detailing Cruise’s latest stunt. This one will see him drive a motorcycle off an actual cliff, jump off the motorcycle in mid-air, freefall a few seconds, and then parachute to the bottom of a huge gorge. And, of course, it’s actually Tom Cruise doing this. Not a stunt person. So he had to practice and train a lot to be able to pull if off.
Over the course of a year, Cruise completed about 500 skydives, which sometimes included 30 in one day, as well as 13,000 motocross jumps on a specially constructed track. All of this was done to make sure Cruise was a complete expert at not just base jumping and parachuting but motocross too. He’d need to be all of those things to pull off the stunt on the day.
But just doing the stunt isn’t enough. Director Christopher McQuarrie and his team needed to capture it. So, as Cruise was training, McQuarrie and his team were testing new cameras, lenses, and brand new technologies and drones to make sure they’d be able to capture the stunt as closely as possible. (You don’t have Tom Cruise train for an entire year if audiences aren’t going to actually be able to see him do the stunt on screen.)
McQuarrie’s team also built a model of the ramp that would eventually be used in a quarry and had Cruise run simulations with a special GPS chip. This way they could calculate and predict all the different trajectories where Cruise might exit the bike, where the bike would land, everything.
Meanwhile, the actual ramp had to be built in Norway, in a place so remote every single piece had to be flow in by helicopter. Months and months of construction and preparation all led up to Day One of filming Mission: Impossible 7, which is when they’d knock the film’s biggest stunt out of the way immediately. Here’s an image of that ramp.
And on that day — as you can imagine, since you haven’t seen any news stories about the demise of one of cinema’s biggest stars — all the training and preparation paid off. Cruise pulled off the stunt not one, not two, but six times, each time trying to hold onto the bike more, pull his parachute a little later, anything to make it more dramatic and exciting.
In the end, McQuarrie said the only thing scarier than performing what his team deemed the biggest stunt in film history, what what they had planned for Mission: Impossible 8.