How Classic James Bond Films Inspired Tom Cruise’s Mission Impossible Stunts?

Has Tom Cruise made horcruxes or something?

by Abhirup Sengupta
Tom Cruise in MI 7 Stunt Featurette, Roger Moore in The Spy Who Loved Me. Image: Paramount Pictures and Eon Productions.

Ahead of the release of Top Gun Maverick in Paramount Plus on December 22, Tom Cruise and co. released a behind-the-scenes look at the big stunt from Mission Impossible Dead Reckoning Part One. In a clip that spanned over nine minutes, Paramount Pictures dropped the featurette of “The Biggest Stunt in Cinema History.”

In the footage released on December 19, Tom Cruise made the jump on a dirtbike and seconds later ditched it to go into a BASE jump. According to the clip, the incredibly daring jump was done during the initial days of principal photography for Mission Impossible 7 in 2020.

While Tom Cruise, Christopher McQuarrie, and Paramount dubbed it as the greatest stunt in film history, it takes cues from a famed stunt from 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me. However, this is not surprising, as the James Bond IP seemingly inspires the franchise.

Tom Cruise’s Mission Impossible Stunts Inspired by James Bond Films?

Like most modern-day spy franchises, Mission Impossible could not shed the expected comparisons to the James Bond movies. Interestingly, 007 also beat the MI franchise to live-action with Sean Connery’s suave being introduced to viewers in 1962’s Dr. No. It would take Mission Impossible creator Bruce Geller another four years to bring the legendary television series to screens. Meanwhile, it took Tom Cruise and his fellow producers another 34 years to get the first film to be made in 1994.

While most of the Mission Impossible series’ stunts performed by Tom Cruise are uniquely thought out, three stunts, in particular, appear to have been inspired by James Bond films of yesteryear.

Octopussy (1983) and Mission Impossible Rogue Nation (2015)

Like 007’s Octopussy, Ethan Hunt’s Mission Impossible 5 had multiple death-defying stunts, which included dangling off a flying airplane in both films. In 2015’s Mission Impossible Rogue Nation, Tom Cruise made headlines when he hooked himself onto an Airbus A400M (Atlas) as it took off. 

Meanwhile, in Octopussy, stuntman, and veteran skydiving expert Jake Lombard doubled James Bond star, Roger Moore. In the film, Bond momentarily has to hold on to the plane’s door and fuselage while the aircraft is in mid-air.

While the aerial stunt in Octopussy may be similar in nature to that of Mission Impossible 5, the primary differences were the number of characters involved and the altitude. In Rogue Nation, Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt had the objective to get inside the aircraft for which he hung to the door. Meanwhile, Roger Moore’s James Bond (stunt double) had to combat goons while hanging atop the aircraft.

Octopussy (1983), Skyfall (2012), and Mission Impossible Dead Reckoning Part One (2023)

Again in Octopussy, legendary stuntman, Martin Grace (who doubled for Roger Moore) had to run on top of the train while in pursuit. Additionally, 007 in the film had to fight one of the henchmen of the primary antagonist, Kamal Khan, on top of the moving train.

Similarly, in 2012’s Skyfall, Daniel Craig’s James Bond had a similar situation. In the film, Craig and his co-star Ola Rapace (Patrice) performed their own stunts on the top of a train that was moving at 40 mph. Like in Octopussy, here Craig’s Bond had to first pursue Patrice and then engage in hand-to-hand combat atop the train.

Meanwhile, in Mission Impossible 7, Tom Cruise will be seen in a similar stunt sequence. As showcased in the teaser trailer for Dead Reckoning Part One, Cruise’s Ethan Hunt will have to fight Esai Morales’ yet unknown character.

The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) and Mission Impossible Dead Reckoning Part One (2023)

In the 1977 classic, stuntman Rick Sylvester doubled Roger Moore for one of the most impressive stunts in film history. Sylvester ski’s down the snowy cliff of Mount Asgard (Canada) before the mighty jump, where he ditches the skis and opens the iconic Union Jack parachute. The single-take stunt is likely the primary inspiration behind Tom Cruise’s take on the motorcycle jump, followed by the BASE jump.

As mentioned in the recently dropped stunt featurette of Mission Impossible 7, the now 60-year-old star revealed that he has wanted to do this stunt since he was a kid. This further hints as to the inspiration behind the sequence. In the clip, Cruise mentioned: “We’re going to shoot it in Norway, and it’ll be a motorcycle jump off a cliff into a BASE jump. Wanted to do it since I was a little kid. It all comes down to one thing. The audience.”

While details about this stunt are scarce, the featurette revealed that Cruise had done the final stunt six times. This means that the stunt may be one of the most expensive ones in film history too. The cost behind the sequence will likely include the actor’s training and practice jumps, construction of the ramp, tuning of six or more motocross bikes, as well as the practice set in an England quarry. As per the clip, prior to the final jump, Tom Cruise had done “over 500 skydives” and “13,000 motocross jumps” in preparation for the sequence. 

Thus, it remains to be seen whether Tom Cruise and co. were inspired by any other such stunts in their upcoming Mission Impossible 7 and 8 films. While fans await these hyped sequences in the coming years, the highlight over stunts again sparks the conversation about their recognition in legacy award platforms like the Oscars and Golden Globes.

- This article was updated on December 21st, 2022

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