They used to call Tom Hanks the most likable man in Hollywood, but I think another Tom may have stolen the title. Yesterday, Tom Cruise posted a video on Twitter thanking movie fans for making Top Gun: Maverick a massive hit and reaffirming his desire to entertain audiences with his upcoming pair of Mission: Impossible films. Then, he jumped out of an airplane because he’s Tom Cruise and of course he did:
A special message from the set of #MissionImpossible @MissionFilm pic.twitter.com/sfnWWluLyl
— Tom Cruise (@TomCruise) December 18, 2022
I don’t want to take anything away from Maverick, which was a terrific movie that people wanted to see again and again, but you can’t imagine the goodwill things like this generate. That’s doubly true in the modern era, where Hollywood people mostly emerge to tell us all how bad we suck, like teenagers throwing a fit at mom and dad. In that environment, the biggest movie star of all – maybe the last one in existence – is gracious and inviting, letting his fans know he values them and wants to earn their dollar rather than demand it. And he even keeps the video fun, especially his exchange with Christopher McQuarrie. (“Not on your life!”) And he’s in the middle of another death-defying stunt, keeping us thinking about the thrills and authenticity he infuses his movies with nowadays, even fantastical ones like Mission: Impossible.
Speaking of which, today saw the online release of a behind-the-scenes video from the set of Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part 1, which is coming to theaters on July 14, 2023 (Bastille Day!):
“I think I can hold to the bike a little longer.”
Holy hell, this is amazing. Presumably, this is what they showed in front of Avatar: The Way of Water in IMAX theaters this weekend. And what a contrast it creates! Avatar and movies like that (even stuff I love, like non-Phase 4 Marvel movies) can do some wonderful things with special effects, but nothing beats old-fashioned stunts like this, things that take so much work and practice to get right, that could go wrong in a million different ways, and that involve real people doing some daredevil action. You can always get lost in a good movie, but knowing in the back of your mind that someone actually jumped off a cliff grips you in a way CGI just can’t. Although I’m sure they’re spectacular, the visuals aren’t enough to make me want to see Avatar, but watching them prep for this stunt makes me want to see Mission: Impossible 7 right now (and Hayley Atwell wasn’t even in the clip).
This one reminds me of one of the greatest movie stunts of all time, the parachute jump in one of my favorite James Bond films, The Spy Who Loved Me:
But unlike that movie (and not to belittle it or anyone involved in any way), that wasn’t Roger Moore; it was a stuntman named Rick Sylvester. This is actually Tom Cruise driving a motorcycle off a cliff like the world’s biggest badass. I’m sure he likes doing this stuff, but part of it is delivering something special for the audience – the same mentality that went into making his thank-you video. I know a lot sucks right now, but Tom Cruise makes you feel lucky to live in this era – or, at least, not so bad about it.