Tom Cruise is known for his high-flying action performances and the nearly-impossible stunt sequences he achieved for the Mission: Impossible franchise. Just watching the films, it’s hard not to be in awe of Cruise, who seems to be putting his life on the line for the sake of entertaining audiences around the world. However, like any blockbuster action movie these days, those films still utilize CGI and green screens in order to digitally make the stunts look as real and immersive as possible. In a recent video, VFX artists broke down exactly how real Cruise’s stunts were, and how much was CGI.
The VFX artists on the YouTube channel Corridor Crew, started by looking at the plane stunt from Mission: Impossible– Rogue Nation. Cruise famously strapped himself to a plane that took off and landed with him on the side of it. After analyzing production footage of the stunt, the graphic artists deemed the stunt very real, with only minimal changes made in postproduction. The only thing that was edited by CGI was removing the safety strap that Cruise used that attached him to the plane, as well as added color correction for a better visual experience.
The next stunt the team analyzed was Cruise’s Halo Jump from Mission: Impossible Fallout. For context, a halo jump is when someone skydives out of an airplane from a very high altitude, and then releases their parachute quite low to the ground. It is incredibly dangerous, and Cruise revealed that he had to practice over a hundred times to get it right. The VFX artists were skeptical, as there is a major storm in the scene that is computer generated. While the graphics artists applauded many of the authentic skydiving shots, they took away points for the CGI storm that the shots cut between, which diminished the authenticity.
Lastly, the team took a look at the scene from Mission: Impossible- Dead Reckoning Part One, where Cruise rides a motorcycle off of a cliff and releases it mid air. The stunt was extremely dangerous, but the Top Gun: Maverick star looks totally calm in the clip, focusing on the task at hand. The VFX artists were incredibly impressed with the stunt. However, they pointed out that the rock formation the Ethan Hunt character drives off of is all CGI and made to alter the constructed ramp that Cruise actually drove off of. While the CGI was undeniable, the graphic designers still rated the scene as authentic because the CGI wasn’t used to alter the actual stunt, and the stunt performance is the true focus of the scene.
The group didn’t analyze all of Cruise’s iconic stunts, but I’d love to hear the VFX artists’ perspective on the Burj Khalifa scene from Mission:Impossible- Ghost Protocol, or even some of the fighter jet scenes in Top Gun: Maverick. While the M:I movies do incorporate special effects into their filmmaking, according to VFX professionals, they are still more authentic than most, using the technology sparingly in their jaw-dropping stunt sequences. Mission: Impossible- Dead Reckoning Part Two has already teased even more “outrageous” stunts in the next installment, and I can’t wait to see how CGI will be implored to make Cruise feel like he’s jumping off the screen.
You can check out Tom Cruise’s latest film, Mission Impossible- Dead Reckoning Part One, which is at the tail end of its theatrical run. In addition, watch the actor and all of his “impossible” stunt performances in the other M:I films, which are currently streaming for Paramount+ subscribers.