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How Mission: Impossible’s Vault Heist Scene Made Tom Cruise an Action Star

Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible’s CIA heist scene.

Still from YouTube

By now, Tom Cruise has done enough running, riding on motorcycles, and dangling off of planes to prove that he is a very good action star. But in 1996, Cruise was more of a pretty-boy leading man, one whose action chops got their first real test in the shooting of Mission: Impossible. That movie’s central setpiece sees Cruise’s Ethan Hunt stealing a cover list from a vault in CIA headquarters, and CineFix’s latest “Art of the Scene” video supplies some key context about how the scene was made and how it changed Cruise’s career.

One thing the video makes clear: Cruise, though he doesn’t get a lot of credit for it, is a major creative force behind the Mission: Impossible movies. Besides producing the films, and doing all his own stunts for them, the actor often plays a huge role in directing the series’ story, tone, and major scenes.