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Climbing treacherous cliff faces, and scaling the tallest buildings. Jumping over huge gaps and from super high altitudes, acrobatics in the air, and underwater, and now. Riding a motorbike down a monster ski jump and skydiving to safety!
Tom Cruise is known for doing all his own stunts... But does he really?
It's fairly common knowledge that Tom Cruise executes all his own stunts and even designs some of them
And he says the reason he does this is that, when acting, he feels he should bring absolutely everything he can, both emotionally and physically to the character he's playing, and he's willing to go to extreme lengths in order to achieve that extra layer of believability.
But does it really make such a difference?
For example, for the HALO jump stunt in Fallout
They had to build a huge wind machine that was large enough for them to be able to rehearse the acrobatic sequence. They had to develop a special helmet that could provide Tom with the oxygen he needed at such a high altitude and illuminate his face because the shot was a nighttime sequence.
They did 5 jumps a day out of a DHC-6 Twin Otter, and 3 jumps out of a Boeing C-17, building up a total of over 100 jumps.
The final jump had to be shot at sunset so they could only shoot one take a day and they had to spend 20 minutes breathing pure oxygen before the jump to avoid getting decompression sickness and all of this planning, training, and preparation was done to achieve this shot
Which couldn't be filmed in Paris, so they filmed it on a clear day in the United Arab Emirates, so this storm is CGI, and this background of Paris had to be added in post, and obviously this is a digidouble.
In fact, if we go back to the start of the sequence, thanks to the illuminated helmet that Tom wears, the entire sequence looks like it could have been a visual effect, using only Tom's face, much like they did with Sandra Bullock in the 2013 movie Gravity.
Ok, so maybe this stunt, in particular, was a hell of a lot of time, money, and work for what seems to be relatively little usable practical footage, but surely other stunts were more beneficial right?
Well, let's see..
In Rogue Nation, Tom had to learn to hold his breath for around 6 minutes, they had to build a massive pool to film in, they had to use special waterproof cameras, and special crane rigs to control their movements
But the entire background environment had to be created digitally and Tom's journey down into it was 100% CGI. They also had to use special motion control rigs and cables to control and direct the actor's movements so that they would coincide with the action and camera movements of the virtual camera and the animated CG environment. And then these rigs and cables had to be removed in post and this CG graphic had to be tracked onto his arm. And so once again, a lot of time, money, and effort, for what seems to be very little benefit.
Tom had to practice jumping on a motorbike and skydiving to get comfortable with the stunt.
So you might think, If believability isn't the reason, maybe it has to do with the budget
But these stunts are so elaborate, the safety measures so extensive, and the insurance costs are so high, that (for movies that claim to have few visual effects) they are actually incredibly expensive... and they are getting even more so.
As Tom's stunts grow more and more extreme with each new installment in the saga, the cost of planning, building, and insuring them also grows.
Take the latest installment, Mission Impossible 7: Dead Reckoning Part One. Tom had to practice jumping on a motorbike and skydiving to get comfortable with the stunt. He did a total of over 500 skydives and over 13,000 Motocross jumps. They then built a practice ramp in a quarry in England which was then filled with loads of cardboard boxes to catch the motorbike.
They simulated different ramps at different speeds to know how far and high, Tom would have to travel And they attached a GPS to him to be able to map his position on every jump and then they practiced...
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