Riding a motorcycle off the edge of a cliff is not the only death-defying stunt Tom Cruise pulls off in the upcoming “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One.” A new featurette on the making of the Paramount action tentpole reveals Cruise learned how to speed-fly, which director Christopher McQuarrie calls “one of the most dangerous sports in the world.”
“While it may look similar, speed-flying is not skydiving,” the filmmaker said. “Skydiving is fairly predictable. Speed-flying is very unpredictable.”
Speed-flying is more akin to paragliding, although the flyer is meant to stay closer to the slope as to pick up more speed.
Staying closer to the slope increases the chance of collision with land, which is why the sport is so dangerous. Flyers race down mountains with their feet closer to the ground.
“It’s a very beautiful and delicate sport,” Cruise said of speed-flying. “We’re gonna do spirals, and we’re landing at an incredibly high speed, over 80 kilometers an hour.”
While McQuarrie agreed that speed-flying looks beautiful, he added, “Behind the scenes we were all in absolute terror.”
While Cruise risked his life racing down the sides of mountains while speed-flying, the infamous motorcycle stunt remains the most death-defying act in “Dead Reckoning Part One.” Cruise rode a motorcycle off the edge of a cliff and parachuted to safety on the first day of filming.
The actor wanted it that way, as his survival would’ve determined the rest of filming on the $200 million tentpole.
“Well we know either we will continue with the film or we’re not. Let’s know day one!” Cruise recently told Entertainment Tonight about filming the stunt at the very start of production.
“Let us know day one what is going to happen: Do we all continue or is it a major rewrite?”
“I was training and I was ready,” Cruise added. “You have to be razor sharp when you’re doing something like that. It was very important as we were prepping the film that it was actually the first thing.
I don’t want to drop that and go shoot other things and have my mind somewhere else. Everyone was prepped. Let’s just get it done.”
Watch Cruise in all his speed-flying glory in the video below. “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One” opens in theaters July 12 from Paramount Pictures.