Tom Cruise Continues to Challenge Death for Our Entertainment

Are you not entertained?
Halo Jump

Are you not entertained?

Symptoms of sequelitis: arrogance, denial, and desperation. Studios fear breaking new ground in favor of retreading proven box office return. Film Twitter screams out from the void, chastising the wave of spin-offs and remakes crashing upon them every weekend. “We want originality! We want new voices!” Sure. Yes. But have you seen that new Mission: Impossible trailer?

Cue Imaginary Dragons, “You can’t fight the friction/So ease it off.”

When it comes to the M:I films, each sequel since the second entry has taken the action to new heights (often literally). Tom Cruise is forced to risk life and limb for the benefit of our entertainment. As he twirls around the Burj Khalifa or straps himself to the side of an airplane, we fall back in wonderment. Are we actually watching Faces of Death?

Last year, Cruise sustained a gnarly ankle injury while performing a rather unimpressive (in action movie standards) rooftop jump. The bone-breaking moment of impact can now be seen in every trailer and TV spot for Mission: Impossible – Fallout. It’s cool and all, but nowhere near as impressive as the bonkers helicopter chase, or the new HALO jump centerpiece.

Paramount Pictures has now allowed us a peek behind the curtain of their latest stunt extravaganza. This behind-the-scenes segment not only showcases the absurd lengths they’re willing to go to achieve the shot, but Cruise’s demented passion for pushing himself. Danger might actually be his middle name. He is G.I. Joe.

The impression you get from this featurette is that Tom Cruise is certainly not being forced by fans to commit such acts of insanity. He’s a madman. The guy is using the Mission: Impossible franchise as his own personal Xgames challenge. As Chief Instructor Ray Armstrong warns, he may have lost his mind without even realizing it. No decompression sickness necessary.

Christopher McQuarrie is the first M:I director to return to the franchise. That means he’s the first director who has to top himself. He’s as excited to toss Cruise out of an airplane as much as the actor. Apparently, they’ve been planning this lunacy for a couple of years. They were probably wondering how to exceed Rogue Nation’s airplane stunt from the moment they executed it. “Oh yeah, let’s just push Ethan Hunt off it next time.”

A HALO Jump is no ordinary parachute sequence. High. Altitude. Low. Open. Cruise freely flings himself from the jumbo jet 25,000 feet in the air, and only pulls the chord when he reaches 2,000 feet. No actor has ever contemplated such foolishness.

Second Unit Director, Wade Eastwood states, “Audiences can tell when something has been cheated.” No doubt. However, audiences have readily accepted a wide variety of CGI-aided action scenes. Reality is no longer required to purchase our buy-in. We may gripe at the CG stuntmen in Black Panther, but we really don’t mind if the film around them is so damn good.

Tom Cruise doesn’t care. He’s the new Buster Keaton. If he can convince the insurance folks and the studios to allow him to do an action scene in-camera, he’s gonna do it. Jumping out of a plane that is scraping the atmosphere and traveling over a 160 miles per hour is all in a day’s good work. He does it for us, but he mostly does it for numero uno. Rock on with your crazy ass self.

Brad Gullickson: Brad Gullickson is a Weekly Columnist for Film School Rejects and Senior Curator for One Perfect Shot. When not rambling about movies here, he's rambling about comics as the co-host of Comic Book Couples Counseling. Hunt him down on Twitter: @MouthDork. (He/Him)