Take the Mission

 
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Well, today, dear readers, the new Mission: Impossible Fallout makes its much anticipated debut here in theaters stateside. I’ve been looking forward to this one ever since I learned that Christopher McQuarrie would be returning to direct it. If you recall, he was the genius behind the Turandot opera sequence from Rogue Nation- see post here.  

In fact, I still harbor a HUGE hope that McQuarrie will somehow incorporate some fantastic musical reference into this film. Regardless, I’m pretty darn sure that this movie will capture me from start to finish. Heck, following the harrowing journey how this movie got made has been exhilarating and inspiring enough. 

A great deal has ensued from when McQuarrie called ‘Take One’ to ‘That’s a Wrap.’  Suffice it to say that while M:I Fallout may be chronicling Ethan Hunt’s most personal and high stakes mission yet, fact followed fiction and this film may have topped the M:I Fallout cast and crews’ most death defying, grit testing, and challenging mission to date as well. And the struggles and challenges they faced serve as a massive inspiration for two reasons:

  1. They took the mission. They accepted the challenge. They tried it, even when they weren’t sure precisely how to surmount the seemingly insurmountable. 
  2. They succeeded. Take a look at that first line again. This movie is made, in spite of the reasons and events that could have made even the most tenacious turn their backs in defeat. It’s finished. And, from the buzz, it’s one of the best Mission: Impossibles yet. 

It seems the body line in the Fallout trailer sums up how the cast and crew approached this film:

Your mission, should you choose to accept it. I wonder, did you ever choose not to?

So, let’s take a look at some of the crazy, freaking scary things the cast and crew were called on to do.

THE HALO JUMP

HALO is an acronym for High Altitude Low Opening. That should tell you pretty much all you need to know about it. In order to film this sequence, Tom Cruise had to get special certification and training before he could even attempt it. HALO jumping is not just sky diving, it’s sky diving on steroids. 

First, the plane climbs to an altitude of 25,000+ feet, cruising at roughly 165 miles per hour. Then, Tom Cruise (kitted out in all the necessary equipment) jumps out of the plane. Falling at 200 miles per hour, Cruise enacts the choreographed sequence before pulling his chute. Sounds simple enough in print, right?

Well, it took them nearly six weeks to film. Why? They only had a three minute window per day to do it. AND, it took Tom Cruise over 100 jumps in order to get it right. AND, in order to make sure no one got decompression sickness, between jumps, the cast and crew needed to spend 30 minutes on the ground wearing oxygen masks. Writing it out, it sounds exhausting. Imagine doing it. 

Yet, that’s precisely what the cast and crew did. They took the mission. And they accomplished it. 

It seems McQuarrie and Cruise quite literally were aiming high with this new installment. 

And, speaking of aiming high, let’s look at the next amazing stunt.

THE HELICOPTER

This sequence has gotten a lot of press. It features heavily in the trailer, too. And, to accomplish it, once again, Cruise, McQuarrie, Cavill, and the crew were called on to stretch in new, uncomfortable, and dangerous ways. 

To film this sequence, Cruise, who already had his fixed wings license, had to get his chopper license, too. McQuarrie used that time to figure out how to affix the camera equipment to the helicopter so that when the sequence was filmed, the audience could see that it was definitely Tom Cruise flying the helicopter. So, while doing a truly death defying stunt of flying a helicopter through the mountains of New Zealand, when the rotor blades were inches away from the cliff face, he was also setting camera frames AND acting. Because, you know, just flying wasn’t complicated enough. 

Henry Cavill, who did the stunt in an open door helicopter where he could have plunged to his death at any point, joked that there were times when he wondered, what happens if we crash? Can I survive a fall from this height? And if I survive, how will I get out of theses remote mountains with a broken leg or equally horrid injury? He accounts Tom Cruise’s exceptional flying skill for ensuring his survival. Although, he hilariously jokes that if he had met his end during the filming of this stunt, it would have made the papers, as he would have been killed by Tom Cruise. (Which, if you have to pick a way to die…)

All joking aside, regardless of how harrowing and perilous this stunt was, the cast and crew again accepted their mission. And, from the awesome footage touted in the trailers and promotional videos, they accomplished it, too. Without dying. Which, of course, is an added boon. 

THE ANKLE

If you are squeamish, please heed the warnings. Not for the faint of heart.

Now, considering that the stunts in this movie have been ridiculously complex and outrageously dangerous, it is rather hilarious that the stunt that demonstrates the most fortitude in my book is the one which should have been the simplest. What could be more simple than doing a running jump from one building to another? (Yeah, I know that sounds funny, doesn’t it? I mean, I wouldn’t want to do that. However, this is Tom Cruise we’re talking about. He’s done this sort of thing before. It should be old hat.) But as he said himself:

You think you know how to make them, until you start making the next one. It’s very humbling. I’m always like, ‘I know how to make these movies.’ Then you’re like, ‘Oh my God, I don’t know what I’m doing!’ 

However, whether it was a miscalculation on Cruise’s part or just bad luck, the simplest of jumps turned into a respite for the cast and crew as Cruise smashed into the side of the building and shattered his talus. (The talus- which is the Latin word for ankle- is quite literally a pivotal part of the body. It connects the foot to the tibia- which helps a person walk and run.) Proving his incomparable work ethic, Cruise leaped, traversed the distance, smashed into the wall, broke his ankle AND then continued with he stunt. When he finished the shot, he called for an ambulance and everyone got an unexpected by much needed summer holiday. 

Cruise was told that it would take nine months before he could return to work, but in true Tom Cruise fashion, he was back to work within six weeks, juggling rehab and training and, you know, just making it through the day, with the panache that has set him apart as one of the greatest action actors ever. To be fair, Cruise wasn’t doing any sprints or running until 12 weeks. And because he refused to let his crew and his fans down by postponing the release date, he did all of it with a broken ankle. And, apparently, it’s still broken. 

When asked how he approached such a painful and traumatic experience- showing up to work, limping his way through scenes and being shuttled via golf cart around set- Tom Cruise said, 

Suck it up, and get it done. 

Succinct and galvanizing in my book. And it served to get the job done. 

Now, I know that for most of us, we’ll never be called on to leap tall buildings or fly helicopters in 360º downward spirals or jump out of airplanes like Special Ops. However, the dedication and tenacity demonstrated on a daily basis throughout the filming of Mission: Impossible Fallout should serve as inspiration for us all. Each of us face our daily challenges. Sure, they’re not as epic as those Ethan Hunt faces in his day to day, but that doesn’t make them any less important. We still have to face them. So, the next time a mission impossible rears its head, whether it be a daunting recipe you’ve yet to tackle or a looming household project or a lifelong dream you’ve been intimidated to start, remember that life is a whole like like Mission: Impossible; it challenges us, yes, but if we stick to it, we can accomplish it, too. With great success.

To quote Cruise yet again: 

That’s Mission, y’know? And you just keep at it. 

And when it comes to life, that’s just what you do. Take the mission. Accomplish it.

So, as the cast has exhorted us since the World Premiere in Paris on the 12th, your mission, dear readers, should you choose to accept it, is to go to the movies this weekend and see Mission: Impossible Fallout. And, if you do, hop back over here and let me know what your favorite part was. If you tell me yours, I’ll tell you mine.