LAS VEGAS – Paramount Pictures presentation at the 5th Annual CinemaCon convention featured a former California governor and a hilarious bit from an infamous male model, but it was Tom Cruise appearing on behalf of “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” that really got the world's theater owners jazzed.
“This is very exciting,” Cruise says. “'Mission' was the first movie I ever produced. The dream was to be able to allow us to make more. Here we are at number five almost 20 years later.”
Cruise was on hand along with co-stars Simon Pegg and Rebecca Ferguson to introduce two extended clips for the fifth “Mission: Impossible” flick. After a quick set up where Cruise noted everything director Christopher McQuarrie (stuck in the editing room) wanted the audience to know the screening began.
The first scene is close to the beginning of the picture and finds an unconscious and shirtless Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) awaking in a dark, but large interrogation room. Hunt is handcuffed with harms behind a large pole and he's very unclear of what exactly is going on. Ferguson's character arrives and pulls out some syringes. Before she begins to question him, an apparent colleague (Sean Harris?) crashes the party with a group of armed guards. Harris' character is known as Dr. Bones (or something similar) and he pulls out some nasty tools to inflict some pain on Hunt to get the answers he needs. As you can guess, Ferguson's character is not who or what she seems and she soon helps Hunt escape. What was most impressive about this scene was Ferguson's slick fighting skills (she apparently did most of her own stunts) and Cruise's ability to hike himself over a 10 foot plus pole like something out of an evil CrossFit exercise.
The second clip finds a groggy Ethan and Benji (Pegg) jumping into a car to avoid capture in Morocco. They are soon avoiding a throng of motorcycle driving henchmen through the streets of what we believe was Marrakech. It turns out fellow IMF agents Brandt (Jeremy Renner) and Luther (Ving Rhames) have been looking for their colleagues and there is a funny bit over their choice to pick a range rover as transpiration because it's just a wee bit too big and too slow to keep up. The scene ends on a literal cliff hanger as Ethan is forced to drive the car backwards off the edge of an elevated road and into the air.
These two moments were then followed by an extended trailer which gave some hints on the tone of the latest “Mission” adventure. McQuarrie and cinematographer Robert Elswit (“There Will Be Blood,” “Ghost Protocol”) have given “Rogue Nation” a darker and more sophisticated look than the last few films. In fact, the series hasn't looked this Bond-ish since the first De Palma directed movie.
Of course, the trailer ended with the already iconic shot of Hunt hanging on to the side of a military airplane as it takes off. Word is quickly spreading among moviegoers that this was not a CG created image and Cruise actually hung on to the side of the plane. After the footage played, Rob Moore, Paramount Pictures Vice Chairman, brought Cruise back out to discuss the stunt. Raw video footage of the first take off, which finds Cruise only hanging on to the plane by one harness, played on the CinemaCon big screen while the actor discussed what occurred.
“I'm an aerobatic pilot, I always wanted to do that,” Cruise says of the stunt. “We started to figure out how to do it. Being a pilot and the speed down the runway, it had to have a steep angle of attack and steep climb out.”
Cruise also says he went through wind test to figure out how keep his eyes open. This meant getting special contacts made so he could look toward the camera and into the wind (“I have to perform”). The weather was also a factor as they shot the scene during the English Winter.
“Just very very cold,” Cruise says. “I can't wear pads because of the wardrobe. We were worried about that temp and any particles on the runway [hitting me]. The second take I thought [a particle] broke my ribs. Bird strikes – we were worried about. It's really all about character and story. We tried to clear out as many birds. We tried to clean up as many as we could.”
And here's the kicker which is even more eye-brow raising once you watch the raw video of the stunt (and you can guarantee Paramount will release it online at some point).
“We had to do it eight times,” Cruise reveals. “There is the other door. We have to get all of those shots. I'm on a harness just right on the side so we can have the vibration of my body against the airplane.”
As the video plays with the plane still on the ground, Cruise gives a thumbs up. Recalling the moment, Cruise notes, “I'm actually scared [expletive]. [I said] don't stop no matter what.”
Once the plane aims upward Cruises feet fall off the wing and only his fingers and the support rope are holding him in. It's incredibly impressive in the context of the raw footage. Moreover, you immediately want to know how think a book of waivers Cruise had to sign with the film's bonding company to even do the stunt once. Yep, it's that crazy.
“Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” opens nationwide on July 31.