How Tom Cruise Did The Burj Khalifa Stunt
9 mins read

How Tom Cruise Did The Burj Khalifa Stunt


  • Cruise’s Burj Khalifa stunt in
    Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
    is a defining, heart-stopping moment for the franchise.
  • With dangerous stunts like the HALO jump in Fallout, the Burj Khalifa climb remains Cruise’s most famous feat.
  • From carefully fixing harnesses to rigorous training, the Burj Khalifa stunt was a logistical nightmare that paid off well.



The Burj Khalifa stunt in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol is a defining moment for the franchise, but audiences wonder if Tom Cruise climbs the Burj Khalifa in real life. With a growing list of extremely dangerous stunts on his resume, scaling Burj Khalifa’s exterior in the fourth installment of the Mission Impossible franchise is one of Cruise’s most famous feats of courage. Since then, Cruise has continued to defy death in multiple movies with stunts like Mission Impossible: Fallout‘s HALO jump. Still, the Tom Cruise Burj Khalifa stunt has become a cinema landmark.

Ghost Protocol takes Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt to Dubai in search of nuclear launch codes after Kurt Hendricks, a.k.a. Cobalt (Michael Nyquist), steals a devastating weapon. It’s obvious by now that Hunt never takes the easy route. Ethan must reach the 130th floor of the 2,722 ft skyscraper and ditch the elevator in favor of a pair of questionable suction gloves. Starting the climb 123 floors up is the easy part as he then rappels down the building and makes a jump of faith. The Tom Cruise Burj Khalifa stunt is one of the most intense and thrilling scenes ever.

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video and Paramount+


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Tom Cruise’s Burj Khalifa Stunt Explained

The Actor Was Equipped With A Harness That Was Fixed To Strategic Points On The Building

For the Tom Cruise Burj Khalifa stunt, the actor had to be equipped with a harness that was carefully fixed to strategic points in the building, which required that the studio get special permits to drill on the floors and walls, and the Mission: Impossible 4 crew broke 35 windows. Director Brad Bird (The Incredibles) consulted with multiple professionals from different areas like engineers, pro climbers, and stuntmen to ensure the safety of the shoot. He even considered using a dedicated stuntman, but, as he’s done for the majority of his career, Cruise did his own Mission: Impossible 4 stunts.

Tom Cruise didn’t know that the tight harness would cut off his circulation, so the shoot had to be completed as efficiently and quickly as possible. Otherwise, his lower body would start feeling numb. The helicopters that were shooting had a flight limit of 30 minutes at a time too, so the crew had to make every take count. The sequence was also shot in IMAX, which meant that the cameras would run out of film fast. The footage had to be flown back to Los Angeles, and Bird couldn’t check if everything was perfect until the film was developed.

The training for the Tom Cruise Burj Khalifa stunt was also extremely thorough and calculated. The crew built a wall of glass to simulate the exterior of the real building and had Tom Cruise climb up and down several times to get him familiarized with the discomfort of the harness and the physical toll of the climb. They went so far as to heat up the wall with artificial lights to simulate the temperature of the windows of the Burj Khalifa. The stunt was a logistical nightmare, but the planning all paid off.


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Why Tom Cruise On Burj Khalifa Is The Best Mission Impossible Stunt

The Stunt Is Like A Live-Action Incredibles Scene

Tom Cruise hovering above the floor in Mission: Impossible

Tom Cruise always does his own Mission: Impossible stunts, including hanging off a plane, holding his breath for six minutes to perform an underwater heist, and conducting 109 HALO jumps to get the perfect shot. But of all these movie stunts, the iconic Burj Khalifa sequence is the best proof of the actor’s dedication to his craft. The Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol scene is the most nail-biting sequence for audiences, and it was extremely dangerous, exhausting, and probably terrifying for Cruise himself.

Nevertheless, the results are impressive, to say the least; Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol has one of the best stunt scenes caught on camera. Having scaled the side of the world’s tallest building – for real – grants eternal franchise bragging rights for any self-respecting action series. The stunt plays out like a live-action Incredibles scene too, as the sequence is layered with clever action comedy, such as the suction gloves having a mind of their own. The Tom Cruise Burj Khalifa stunt has an equal balance of edge-of-your-seat thrills and laugh-out-loud comedy, which few other Mission: Impossible stunts have.


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Was The Tom Cruise Burj Khalifa Stunt His Most Dangerous?

The Motorcycle Jump In Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning As Arguably More Dangerous

Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt in the desert in Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One.

Following the Tom Cruise Burj Khalifa stunt, the actor performed more stunts that were just as dangerous. In Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, Cruise hung onto the side of a plane as it took off. The actor also held his breath underwater for a record-breaking 6 minutes (that’s until the record was broken by Kate Winslet in Avatar: The Way of Water). Following that, Cruise committed to a HALO jump for Mission: Impossible – Fallout. The HALO jump was so dangerous that Henry Cavill wasn’t allowed to take part because it would have put Cruise’s life at risk (via AutoEvolution).

However, the motorcycle jump in Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part 1 was the actor’s most dangerous stunt yet. It would have been impossible to foresee where the bike would land when Cruise let go, and so many other things that the production couldn’t properly plan for. Accurately conducting a risk assessment of the scene must have been the most frustrating part of the movie’s development. The impossible-to-determine physics, along with controlling a vehicle in mid-air and being dangerously close to rocks on a cliff edge, makes Cruise’s motorcycle jump the most dangerous stunt in the Mission: Impossible franchise.

Tom Cruise has injured himself a number of times due to his commitment to performing his own stunts (via



However, it’s comical to compare the Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol stunt and the motorcycle-parachute stunt, as neither are things that anybody should ever attempt. Nevertheless, Cruise competes with himself, and Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part 2 could feature his two most dangerous stunts yet. Mission: Impossible 8 features a water stunt in which Cruise could claim back his breath-holding record from Winslet. The upcoming movie also features another airplane stunt, only this time it isn’t taking off but is sky-high. Either way, Mission: Impossible’s stunts are almost equally dangerous, and Cruise is happily risking his life for the audience’s entertainment.

Sources: AutoEvolution, MovieWeb

Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol movie poster

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

The fourth film in the franchise, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, is an action-thriller film set years after the events of Mission: Impossible 3. It sees Ethan Hunt and the Impossible Missions Force (IMF) see themselves falsely accused of a crime. Following a terrorist attack on the Kremlin, the IMF is implicated in the attack, forcing the government to disavow knowledge of them. To clear their names and find the true culprit, the United States initiates the “Ghost Protocol,” forcing them all to go off the grid with no support to solve the case.

Release Date
December 15, 2011

Paramount Pictures

Christopher McQuarrie

2h 13m


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