Stunt coordinator Brian Smrz reveals in the behind-the-scenes footage how they created one of the frightening “Mission: Impossible 2” moments:
“Now, we had a real knife that was really sharp and really pointy. There was no faking that. What we did do was we had a cable attached to it in the knife which was hooked to an overhead bar that, so the knife could only go so far.”
Keith Campbell, who performed the overhang stunt in the pulse-pounding cliff scene, describes the stunt as “nerve-wracking” because the knife would actually stop one-quarter-inch from Tom Cruise’s eyeball. And miraculously, Cruise doesn’t even flinch! Campbell also explains that despite the well-designed mechanics behind the effect, there were still a lot of risks involved:
“[I]f he’d sit up or move or twitch or the cable were to slip or … There’s a lot of ‘maybes’ that make it an interesting shot to watch. But he did do that part with a real knife.”
While it is not as elaborate as other stunts in the “Mission: Impossible” series, this simple effect is terrifying. The close-up shot of a knife barely penetrating Tom Cruise’s eye, less than an inch away from squishing into his skull, feels like something out of a horror film. This shocking and stomach-twisting image exemplifies John Woo’s flamboyant style that makes “Mission: Impossible 2” such a daring entry in the franchise.
While filming this unsettling scene, Woo says, “It was pretty scary. And I’m so glad the scene had such a greater impact because Tom was really risking his life for the shot.” 23 years later, Cruise is still risking his life for the shot and doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.