Riding a motorcycle off a cliff and learning the dangerous sport of speed-flying weren’t the only requirements for acting in “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One.” Tom Cruise also had to fight co-star Esai Morales on the roof of a train moving at 60 miles per hour. The latest “Dead Reckoning” behind-the-scenes featurette confirms that Cruise and Morales, the latter of whom plays the film’s villain, shot the fight scene practically, meaning they were literally strapped to the top of a train as it sped through a valley in Norway.
“When we started talking about this movie in the terms of a sense of adventure, an action sequence on a train is something we always wanted to do,” writer-director Christopher McQuarrie said. “We wanted to build upon the previous films and apply that knowledge to something practical and real and bring this train sequence to another level.”
“There was not a surplus of trains available to be wrecked,” he added. “We had to build the train if we wanted to destroy it. To shoot it practically was extremely challenging. Not just to execute it, but to design all of the different train carts that could function on a real train track.”
The train’s speed hit the 60 miles per hour mark during filming. That might seem crazy to film on, but for Cruise it’s just another day on the set of a “Mission: Impossible” movie.
“I’ve done fight scenes, but to do them on a moving train is trial by fire,” Morales said. “But that’s how Tom like to do things.”
A previous featurette revealed Cruise hit speeds of up to 50 miles per hour while speed-flying during one sequence of the movie. Speed-flying, which McQuarrie described as “one of the most dangerous sports in the world,” is similar to paragliding, although the flyer stays closer to the slope as to pick up more speed. Staying closer to the slope increases the chance of collision with land.
“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 speed-flying and fighting atop a speeding train present their own risk factors, the most death-defying stunt in “Dead Reckoning” is Cruise riding a motorcycle off the edge of a cliff. The stunt was performed on the first day of filming. Cruise preferred it that way, as his survival would determine 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.”
“Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One” opens in theaters July 12 from Paramount Pictures.