‘Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol’ director reflects on Burj Khalifa stunt 10 years on

mission impossible ghost protocol

Tom Cruise isn’t just one of the biggest movie stars of the modern era, but he’s also gained a second appreciation for being one of the industry’s most accomplished stunt performers and top precision drivers, which comes with the territory when you’ve got a burning desire to risk life and limb in the name of entertaining audiences.

Whether he’s strapping himself to a plane during takeoff, riding a motorcycle off a cliff before parachuting to safety, holding his breath for minutes at a time, or just generally running as he’s famous for doing, Cruise can always be relied on to give it his all.

However, when it comes to naming the single most impressive physical feat he’s ever pulled off, it’s almost impossible to look past Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol‘s insane Burj Khalifa sequence. In an interview with The Radio Times to mark the blockbuster’s tenth anniversary, director Brad Bird reflected on one of the greatest and most awe-inspiring stunts ever committed to celluloid.

“I very clearly remember waking up with a start at about two in the morning, with the thought that if anything went wrong this movie was just toast. Because, it’s Tom’s movie and if anything happened to him, we were just absolutely toast. So I mean, I woke up going, ‘What are we doing?. But fortunately, we had a great stunt team. Really fantastic, super safe people. And Tom knows a ton about stunts – the stuntmen said that if the movie star thing hadn’t worked out for him, he would have been a magnificent stuntman because he understands how to sell a stunt and make it look good for the camera.

So not only is it his face but he actually knows about stunts and how to twist his body in a certain way so that it looks great on the screen. And Tom was a super collaborative person, I never had to fight him on anything – he wanted to know about everything, but if you had good answers for him he was the first one into school.”

mission impossible ghost protocol

It would be all too easy to pull off the Burj Khalifa scene with CGI and stunt doubles, but that’s not how Tom Cruise operates. Fans had their hearts in their mouths as he ran, jumped, fell, climbed and bombed around the world’s tallest building, and it arguably hasn’t been topped by either the Mission: Impossible franchise, or action cinema in general.