Tom Cruise is the only action movie star in Hollywood.
He has one goal and that is to bring joy to us, the movie-going audience, and he believes the only way to do so is to one-up himself in stunt work every time he steps on screen. For Top Gun: Maverick that meant doing an actual aircraft carrier launch and being in the plane (but not flying) for the trench run scene, but that was all just a warmup for the latest installment in the Mission Impossible franchise. Dead Reckoning (Part One) will be the seventh installment in the franchise and after actually flying a helicopter in a chase scene and doing a Halo jump in Fallout, Cruise decided it was finally time to do a stunt he claims to have been dreaming of since he was a child.
Base-jumping after driving a motorcycle off of a cliff.
That being a childhood dream of Cruise’s explains an awful lot about Tom and how he became the maniac he is today, and on Monday the good folks at Paramount Pictures decided to give us all an early present for the holidays with a 10-minute behind the scenes video of Cruise training for and executing the motorcycle base-jump in Norway.
There is only one version of method acting that I respect and it is the Tom Cruise Method, where instead of immersing yourself in a character for six months while you shoot a film, you simply train yourself year-round to become him. You do 30 skydives every day so that canopy control becomes second nature, boasting a mantra of “don’t be careful, be confident.” You do the same motocross jump 13,000 times so that when you launch your motorcycle off a ramp into a ravine in Norway, you hit your mark and fly off perfectly. You spend millions of someone else’s dollars to build two gigantic ramps, one on a cliff in Norway and another over a pit of cardboard boxes for practice, so you know what cameras to use and how to mount them and where to place all of the drones. You do all of this to live out a childhood dream and make everyone that watches your movie go “holy shit.” And then, when you’re done practicing, you do the actual jump and say, “I can hold to the bike a little longer” and insist on doing the most dangerous stunt ever six times so that you have every possible shot from every possible angle perfect.
It’s all just incredible, and I also love that they did this as the first thing of the entire movie. Nothing sets the tone for a movie like your lead star jumping a motorcycle into a cliff with no wires or safety netting, just a parachute and thousands of hours of practice. Also, it shows an unbelievable amount of confidence in the film that you can show the biggest stunt and how it was shot months before the movie releases, and everyone will still want to see it in theaters — which you can and should do in July 2023.
My esteemed colleague Brian Grubb has pleaded with Tom Cruise that he doesn’t have to do this, but I must respectfully disagree. Tom must do this — for himself, for us, and for cinema. He is locked in an eternal game of chicken with himself, and the only problem is, Tom Cruise never blinks.