Tom Cruise is well known for doing his own stunts, far more than most leading actors in Hollywood. Every action movie he appears in arrives with new tales of him dangling from wires, zipping through traffic on a motorcycle, or performing some other feat of derring-do for our amusement. His next movie, Mission: Impossible—Rogue Nation, is a little bit different, but only in the fact that he’s kicking it up a notch.
We’ve all seen the trailer where Cruise hangs off the side of an airplane as it takes off, but apparently that’s not even close to the most harrowing stunt he performed during production. Talking to Yahoo, the Edge of Tomorrow star revealed that Rogue Nation contains one long underwater scene with no cuts. Cruise said:
We have something I’ve always wanted to do: an underwater sequence without cuts. The kind of training I had to do for that was pretty intense. I’ve done a lot of underwater scenes but I’ve never done one [like this] that will get the audience to lean forward and have a visceral reaction.
There’s something about scenes where characters are trapped underwater or underground that are especially troubling and unnerving to many viewers (buried alive is also rather worrisome). The combination of knowing you have a finite amount of air, and not knowing if you’ll be able to escape, creates a powerful, gut-level response in audiences, so if they’re looking to deliver something "visceral," as Cruise says, this is definitely one way to go about that. Quick show of hands, who else out there holds their breath during underwater scenes?
Tom Cruise also says that he is inspired to perform as many stunts as he can by the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Harold Lloyd. He credits the practical, physical things they did, even if it rarely involved rappelling off of a skyscraper, with hooking the audience and drawing them even further into their respective film worlds, and that is the impact he wants in these situations. He’s been making thrilling action movies for a long time, a lot longer than most of his compatriots, so maybe he’s onto something.
In Mission: Impossible—Rogue Nation, Ethan Hunt (Cruise) and the rest of his team, including Benji (Simon Pegg), Luther (Ving Rhames), and Brandt (Jeremy Renner), among others, take on their deadliest foe yet, the Syndicate, a rogue organization that is committed to destroying the IMF. Directed by Christopher McQuarrie, Mission: Impossible—Rogue Nation hits theaters July 31.