Mission: Impossible — Tom Cruise’s 10 craziest stunts from the franchise, ranked

Harry Fletcher

Tom Cruise has suffered broken ribs, torn shoulders and risked his life for the Mission: Impossible franchise down the years.

Not only does the actor dream up some of the most bonkers sequences ever put to film, he outright refuses to use stunt doubles to shoot them too.

At the age of 56 he’s conducted some of the most extreme stunts yet for upcoming movie Mission: Impossible — Fallout, learning to fly helicopters for a key sequence in the new film.

With the franchise’s sixth instalment due to be released in the UK on July 25, take a look back at the craziest stunts from the series.

10. Train chase — Mission: Impossible

This sequence from Mission: Impossible was, unsurprisingly, filmed using green screen, although Cruise had the brainwave of introducing incredibly powerful wind machines reaching 140mph to add realism. The equipment is normally used to train skydivers and there’s palpable force being exerted on him throughout. Cruise performed the stunt himself and the scene is just another example of the actor putting himself at the heart of the action in order to capture great footage.

9. Lobster tank explosion — Mission: Impossible

It isn’t the most spectacular sequence in the series but the water tank scene from the first Mission: Impossible proved one of the most problematic. Cruise badly injured his ankle running through the debris in the scene, which sees him use exploding gum to blow up a huge lobster tank containing 16 tons of water. Director Brian De Palma initially planned to use a stunt man, but later asked Cruise to film it himself to add realism. Despite injuring himself in the process, Cruise stepped up to the plate and set the president for realistic stunts throughout the franchise.

8. Skyscraper swing — Mission: Impossible III

Shanghai is the setting for one of the biggest, dumbest moments in Mission: Impossible III, which sees Cruise hurl himself from one skyscraper to another for reasons too implausible to mention. It’s great fun though and the moment Ving Rhames’ character Luther Stickell brilliantly delivers the line, “I knew he’d make it,” showed the franchise didn’t always take itself too seriously either.

7. Deep water — Mission: Impossible — The Ghost Protocol

Cruise’s character Ethan Hunt is forced to hold his breath for six minutes in this gripping underwater sequence from Ghost Protocol. After jumping over 120 feet, Hunt is clattered by machinery before ultimately losing consciousness and eventually being saved by Rebecca Ferguson’s Ilsa Faust. While the stunt was mostly filmed using CGI, the end result was one of the film’s most memorable sequences.

6. Langley break-in — Mission: Impossible

The first Mission: Impossible, while packed with action and Scooby Doo-esque mask reveals, remains the most understated instalment of the series. The sequence involving Cruise and Jean Reno’s Krieger infiltrating the CIA headquarters in Langley isn’t the most high-octane stunt in the franchise, but it’s certainly one of the most memorable. The set-piece, which sees Cruise come within inches of triggering the alarm, is arguably the most perfectly orchestrated in all the Mission: Impossible movies.

5. Bridge attack — Mission: Impossible III

Cruise cracked two ribs filming this scene from Mission: Impossible III, which saw him flung into the side of a car. Cruise runs from an explosion in the clip, before clambering from one side of the impacted bridge to another in a bid to stop Philip Seymour Hoffman’s arms dealer Owen Davian escaping. The scene formed one of the most enduring scenes in the third movie, which helped to steer the films back on course after the misguided second instalment.

4. Helicopter chase — Mission: Impossible — Fallout

Cruise took an intensive helicopter pilot course in order to conduct this thrilling sequence from Mission: Impossible — Fallout himself, showing an incredible commitment to authenticity. The shoot involved a total of 13 helicopters moving in close proximity, with Cruise flying, acting and operating cameras all at the same time. He performs corkscrew turns and incredible, death-defying turns through the mountainside that an experienced pilot would have been proud of, making this one of the most impressive sequences to date.

3. Climbing the Burj Khalifa — Mission: Impossible — The Ghost Protocol

There’s no green screen in play here — Cruise really did climb up the world’s tallest building for 2011’s Mission: Impossible - The Ghost Protocol. The scene sees Ethan Hunt scale Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, dangling precariously from the building, combatting technical issues and an incoming sandstorm. Cruise was strapped to the building throughout the shoot and his insistence on doing it for real makes the scene all the more impressive. It’s certainly one of the most high-profile movie stunts conducted in recent years.

2. Rock Climbing — Mission: Impossible II

John Woo’s preposterous, overblown action movie Mission: Impossible II starts, suitably, with truly staggering footage of Cruise dangling from a cliff face, 2,000 feet above ground. Although Cruise wore a harness during filming, he shot the entire sequence without a safety net. The stunning footage came at a cost though — Cruise injured himself while jumping from one ledge to another, ripping his shoulder in the process.

1. Prepare for takeoff — Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation

Only Tom Cruise would have the bottle to pull of a stunt as crazy as this incredible scene from Rogue Nation. The actor hangs off the side of an Airbus A400 travelling at 160mph in this incredible sequence, which marks the most high-profile stunt ever performed in the Mission Impossible movies. “I’m feeling the force of the wind hit me. I’m actually scared s***less,” he said while describing the scene in a video featurette — no wonder. The truly staggering thing is Cruise did eight takes of the heart-stopping scene, proving his status as one of the most committed actors in Hollywood.