• Mission: Impossible 2 marked a turning point for Tom Cruise, as he set out to make himself an action hero and performed impressive stunts.
  • The rock climbing sequence in Mission: Impossible 2 was filmed with safety cables and a stuntman, although it still showcased Cruise’s dedication to making things look real.
  • Since Mission: Impossible 2, Cruise has continued to push the boundaries with death-defying stunts in subsequent Mission: Impossible movies, going to great lengths to thrill the audience.

Mission: Impossible 2 opens with an incredible sequence of Tom Cruise rock climbing with no safety cables as superspy Ethan Hunt climbs a mountain with no safety cables leading to speculation if the stunt was real. Mission: Impossible 2 marked something of a turning point for Cruise. Before the sequel, the actor appeared in a variety of genres, with his star power alone often enough to make a given film a success. With Mission: Impossible 2, he set out to make himself an action hero, and to that end hired genre master John Woo as director and performed several impressive stunts himself. But did Tom Cruise climb the mountain in Mission: Impossible 2?

Mission: Impossible 2 was a major success in 2000 and proved the Mission: Impossible franchise had a future ahead. Mission: Impossible 2 also began the trend of death-defying stunts in these movies thanks to Ethan Hunt’s introduction scene. In this opening, Hunt – who is on vacation from the IMF – is scaling up a cliff at Utah’s picturesque Dead Horse Point. Hunt is free soloing up the cliff with no safety cables or harness, and at one point, even skids down an overhang and is left dangling in the air. Unlike Hunt, the Tom Cruise rock climbing was done with safety ropes and a stuntman.

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How Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible 2 Mount Climb Stunt Was Filmed

tom cruise as ethan hunt hanging off mountain mission impossible 2

In a 2000 interview with UKC, Mission: Impossible 2 cameraman and experienced climber Earl Wiggins broke down the Tom Cruise rock climbing sequence. He explained that Cruise trained for Mission: Impossible 2’s rock climbing scene with stunt double Ron Kauk, who would also escort him into position for each shot. The climbing was filmed over five days, while winches were also used to get the star in and out of position for the scene. For the moment where Hunt slips down and holds on to the overhang, Wiggins revealed Cruise’s double Keith Campbell did that particular stunt.

During the filming of this Mission: Impossible 2 climb, Cruise was always attached to safety cables or harnesses that were later removed in post with CGI. This includes the impressive, 15 feet leap Ethan takes from one side of the mountain to the other. Cruise performed the stunt in many takes of the latter jump himself to make sure it looked right. While the scene was critiqued by experienced climbers over its lack of reality, this opening performed its main task of making Hunt look like a daredevil who enjoyed being – in this case literally – on the edge. Even with a safety cable, Tom Cruise’s work in this Mission: Impossible 2 sequence is incredible and showed his dedication to making things look real.

How The MI:2 Rock Climb Compares To Tom Cruise’s Other Stunts


The Tom Cruise rock climbing stunt is still a thrilling sequence to look back on all these years later, but it is small scale compared to the things Cruise does in the Mission: Impossible movies now. Mission: Impossible 2‘s stunt could be seen as the moment Cruise saw the impact it would have all the audience to see him perform such a dangerous feat himself and it seems he has been chasing that in all the subsequent Mission: Impossible movies.

Of course, insurance companies and studios are not keen to see their star ricking such stunts which is why Cruise doesn’t perform the rock climbing sequence completely on his own. However, after Mission: Impossible 2, Cruise seems to have leveraged his role as producer to let him get away with putting himself in truly outrageous situations. The Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol Burj Khalifa sequence seemed to be the real shift in which a big selling point of these movies became seeing what Cruise was willing to do next.

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation found Cruise hanging onto the side of a plane as it took off and holding his breath underwater for a record-breaking amount of time. Mission: Impossible – Fallout had Cruise doing a Halo jump on camera and flying a helicopter in a midair battle sequence. Most recently, Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part 1 featured a wild sequence of Cruise driving a motorcycle off a cliff and parachuting. As the bar continues to be raised, it is clear the Mission: Impossible 2 rock climbing sequence was just the beginning of the lengths – and heights – Cruise was willing to go to for the audience.

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