Ranking Tom Cruise’s Movie Stunts, From Tame to “How Is He Still Alive?!”

Tom Cruise

Warner Bros. Pictures, Paramount Pictures

With the release of the trailer for Mission: Impossible: Rogue Nation, the fifth film in the franchise, we finally confirmed what we’ve known deep down all along.

Tom Cruise is insane.

When you watch Ethan dangling on the side of a jet as it takes off, you might have thought about how the special effects team made that shot look so real. But it’s real because Tom Cruise is actually hanging onto the side of a plane as it lifts into the air!

See? Insane.

But everyone knows Tom Cruise always prefers to do his own stunts, much to the horror of his directors, lawyers, loved ones and crew members, because almost all of them have stated how nervous they were watching this Hollywood icon put his life in jeopardy, but that’s just what Tommy do, as they say.

(No one says that).

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So here’s a quick history lesson in Tom Cruise Stunts, ranked on the danger scale from tame to “Dear god man, how are you still alive?!”

18. Les Grossman gets low and gets back, Tropic Thunder

Danger scale: As the philosopher Flo Rida sings in the song, it’s “low, low, low, low, low, low, low, low.” He could have choked on those thick gold chains and/or suffocated in that fat suit, but Tom’s a professional so that would never happen.

17. Underpants dance, Risky Business

Danger scale: Tame. The only dangers here are splinters.

16. Performing “Pour Some Sugar on Me”, Rock of Ages

Danger scale: Meh. Neck sprains at most.

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15. Breath-holding, Minority Report

Danger scale: So-so. Cruise insisted to Steven Spielberg that he hold his breath and control his own breathing to make the bubble effect in the bathtub. At most he would have passed out and four crew members would have jumped in the bathtub to save him. 

14. Stripper pole seduction, Rock of Ages

Danger scale: Calloused hands, probably. But he could have slipped off the pole because his hands were so greased up. There was so much oil in that movie.

13. Shootout, Taps

Danger scale: This was Tom’s first big stunt and his first big movie role, so the only reason this was dangerous was because he was such a noob. Current Tom Cruise would have laughed at being shot at in this film. Laughed!

12. Runnin’ and jumpin’, Edge of Tomorrow

Danger scale: Bumps and bruises. Running and jumping in that much metal can’t be comfortable or completely pain-free.

11. Jet pack fight scene, Minority Report

Danger scale: A little rough. It’s an 80-foot high stunt, which is child’s play when you consider the other crazy stuff this man does to get the perfect action shot.

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10. Watering a flower, Oblivion

Danger scale: Falling to his death, but only if he moved around a lot, which he didn’t. Cruise filmed this scene inches away from an 800-foot drop at the top of Iceland’s Jarlhettur, a location that is only accessible by helicopter. 

9. Sword fight, The Last Samurai

Danger scale: Medium. Tom had to do all his own sword fighting, and one wrong move could have resulted in serious injuries. Plus, one stunt actually did go wrong and his co-star Hiroyuki Sanada was an inch away from slicing his neck open.

8. Exploding fish tank, Mission: Impossible

Danger scale: Pretty legit, because drowning isn’t safe. Sixteen tons of water were used for the scene, and Cruise refused to use a stunt double, obviously.

7. Driving stunts, Jack Reacher

Danger scale: Going out in a blaze of glory. Tom of course did all his own crazy driving work in the movie, and the film’s signature chase sequence was basically extended footage of Cruise in near-death situations.

6. Highway chase, Knight and Day

Danger scale: Straight bananas. His chances for complete safety are sketchy, because he’s strapped to the hood of a speeding car while weaving in and out of traffic! 

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5. Knife fight, Mission: Impossible II

Danger scale: Lost eyeball, blindness, death. LOL, did you think that was a fake knife? Nope, that was a real knife rigged to stop precisely a quarter of an inch away from Tom’s eyeball, as requested by the actor himself. Way too much could have gone wrong here.

4. Dangling from cliffs, Mission: Impossible II

Danger scale: High, because Tom is free climbing at Utah’s Dead Horse Point without a safety net, only a harness. The studio tried to talk him out of it, but apparently Tom couldn’t think of any other way to reintroduce the character of Ethan Hunt. How about in a way that doesn’t have a good chance of killing the lead of the movie?!

3. Truck runneth over, Mission: Impossible III

Danger scale: What is wrong with this man?! A giant truck is jackknifing over Tom (FF to 18 minutes in the above video to see it) while he just casually chills on his back in the middle of the street like it ain’t no thang. Which it isn’t for Tom the daredevil.

2. Climbing the world’s tallest building, Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol

Danger scale: Plumb f–king loco. He’s scaling the Burj Khalifa Tower in Dubai, aka the tallest building on the entire planet, with only a wire keeping him from plummeting to his death. 

1. Hanging on the side of a plane as it takes off, Mission: Impossible: Rogue Nation

Danger scale: Dear god man, how are you still alive?! This is actually insane. Tom Cruise is an insane person for doing this. Just read this interview if you want to know how a lone bird could have put an end to Tom Cruise’s action reign forever.

Thank you Tommy, for continually putting your life in danger just so a scene looks hella cool for movie-goers.

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