Maybe they should make a documentary for all the real-life stunts Tom Cruise insists on doing without the help of a stunt double. Undeterred by an ankle-shattering mishap while filming a jump stunt last year, Cruise famously hopped back in the saddle to film even more insane takes — like the high-altitude, low-open (HALO) skydiving jump earlier this year for the upcoming Mission: Impossible — Fallout.
Now Paramount Pictures is offering up a neat video walkthrough of how Cruise and the production crew pulled it off, explaining all the preparation for the high-risk stunt as well as the tight three-minute time window they had to get it right while shooting on location in the United Arab Emirates.
Devised as a military tactic for covert parachuting operations, HALO jumps begin above 20,000 feet, but require jumpers to wait until they’re literally only at skyscraper height — about 2,000 feet — to pull the cord. The stunt required Cruise to run toward a cameraman, who jumps backwards from the cargo bay only a split second before Cruise makes the same leap, and colliding while in the air, said filmmakers, was a real concern.
“You’re talking about Tom jumping out a plane that’a traveling at 165 miles per hour…falling at 200 miles per hour, and he’s to position himself so that he lands exactly three feet away from the camera, with 20,000 feet beneath him,” said director Christopher McQuarrie. “The risk of a midair collision, we were really concerned about.”
The clip delivers tons of other interesting tidbits, like how the shoot required a mix of wind tunnel rehearsal (atop an enormous tunnel purpose built for the shot), as well as five real-life practice jumps each day. Cruise reportedly went through more than 100 actual HALO jumps in preparation for the sunset-only real take, and wore a specially designed helmet — part movie prop; part “life-saving device” — in order for his face to remain visible to the camera.
In addition to breaking his ankle while jumping between buildings for the ill-fated stunt shoot last summer, Cruise also put in 2,000 hours of flight time as he learned to pilot a helicopter for another sequence. Thankfully, all of his efforts haven’t gone to waste (even the footage from his ankle-breaking jump is in the movie’s final cut), so now all we have to do is sit back and wait. Mission: Impossible — Fallout dives into theaters everywhere on July 27.