Tom Cruise shot some jaw-dropping stunt sequences for Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, the most notorious being the scene in which he hangs off the side of a plane as it takes off. A real plane. Which really left the ground. At full speed. This prompts me to ask just one question: WHY? Why did the Tom Cruise plane stunt in Mission Impossible: Rogue Mission even happen?! Why would anyone in their right mind choose to hang off the side of a plane when there exists a union filled with stuntmen specifically trained to do such feats so you don't have to?
Cruise was well aware of the inherent risks of the stunt when he signed on. In a featurette released by the studio, the actor commented on the experience: "If something went wrong, I can't get into the airplane until we land...I'm feeling the force of the wind hit me. I'm actually scared sh*tless." But apparently not sh*tless enough to bring in a double, or even to turn down the opportunity to do additional stunts in the movie. Cruise performed multiple stunts in the the first several movies of the MI franchise, and the fifth film takes it up a notch. In addition to the plane scene, the actor partakes in a high-speed motorcycle chase, engages in a ton of complicated fight choreography, and holds his breath for six minutes in an underwater scene. Again, why? A few thoughts on some potential reasons...
Possibility #1: Because Cruise Wants To Show He's Still A Badass
It's rare to have a 53-year-old protagonist in a highly physical action film, and it would be understandable if Cruise felt pressure to prove that he still has the athletic capabilities to play the highly agile secret agent Ethan Hunt. The best way to dispel any doubts and give the middle finger to his haters? Do the stunts without a double. And put the craziest one (the plane, of course) right at the beginning of the movie so it's obvious from the start that he's still got it. Then drop the mic.
Possibility #2: Because He's A Little Crazy
Tom Cruise is well known for being a little, uh, quirky. Could his desire to participate in death-defying stunts stem from the same place that motivated him to play-wrestle with Oprah while declaring his love for Katie Holmes? Or make sweeping comments invalidating psychiatry? Or like, any else of his behavior during 2005-2006?
Possibility #3: Because He Can
When you're as rich and famous as Tom Cruise, you can pretty much do whatever you want. Rogue Nation stunt director Wade Eastman told the New York Post that Cruise will put up a battle for the privilege to do his own stunts: “He stomps his feet and fights for it and tells [the studio] that basically if they don’t [let him], he’s not going to do the movie."
The fact that Cruise is a producer of Mission Impossible gives him an added level of power in making decisions that would normally be out of actors' hands. And so, if Tom wants to hang off an airplane, Tom's gonna hang off an airplane.
Regardless of his reasons for doing it, Cruise's plane scene in Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation is undeniable cool, as are the rest of the stunts within the movie. If the actor is going to insist on doing his own stunts, I'm going to keep watching them. But I'll do so while firmly rooted to the ground.
Images: Paramount Pictures, Giphy (2)