Mission: Impossible Borrows From This Unexpected Film Genre

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation has already imposed itself on a summer blockbuster season that was flourishing nicely. While Rogue Nation is being touted as one of the best action films of the year, it’s influences are much more widespread than that. In fact, Tom Cruise has revealed that the silent comedy genre was a huge inspiration during the conception of Rogue Nation’s most exhilarating scenes.

Tom Cruise made this admission during his riveting, almost two hour long discussion on The Q&A With Jeff Goldsmith. After being asked how he had the gall and cojones to actually shoot the blockbuster’s opening gambit, which involves Cruise hanging on for dear life as a huge plane speeds down the runway at 500mph and then sets off into the sky, Cruise proclaimed that he was inspired by the extreme and unsafe lengths that the greats of the silent comedy genre went to just to entertain their audiences. Cruise explained:

I want to entertain audiences. I go back to the black and whites. The Buster Keatons. Charlie Chaplin. Their roots in vaudeville. The fathers of cinema, where they're doing it in a practical way. When you look at Buster Keaton in The General, Harold Lloyd's clock tower, or Charlie Chaplin, there's a physical[ity] that as a kid brought me into it."

And it’s safe to say that audiences are ecstatic Tom Cruise went infinitely above and beyond the usual acting limit, and that’s exactly what makes Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation so tense, compelling and entertaining.

Because, not only did Cruise hang onto a plane that then flew into the air, but he also held his breath for around six minutes (allegedly) for an underwater scene. All of which proves that, in my opinion, Tom Cruise is still the biggest and most ground-breaking action actor in the world. Which isn’t bad for a man who just turned 53 and has been peppering cinemas with his work in the genre for around 30 years.

This isn’t the first time that the silent comedies influenced the Mission: Impossible franchise, and Cruise in particular. Earlier this year at the Tribeca Film Festival, Brad Bird spoke to Janeane Garofalo about his work on Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, and after showing the scene where Simon Pegg’s Benji and Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt break into the Kremlin, Bird spoke glowingly about Cruise’s comedic sensibilities. Can’t remember that scene? Then watch it again below

Bird then revealed that when he first met the actor, Cruise’s immense knowledge of silent comedy, especially Harold Lloyd’s films, immediately came to the fore:

The clip is like a silent comedy in a way. One of the things I responded to with Tom when I first met him was he talked about movie history. What we loved. And I mentioned Harold Lloyd and he knew all of Harold Lloyd's films. I could use that short stroke with him and he knew what I was talking about.

All of which proves that on top of being the biggest actor in the world, dashingly handsome, and impossibly nice, Tom Cruise also knows more about films than most us, too. Mission Impossible - Rogue Nation is now in cinemas everywhere. And it’s pretty damn good.

Gregory Wakeman