High-adrenaline action thriller Point Break, out in cinemas on February 5, features some of the most daring athleticism ever seen on the big screen as a young FBI agent (Luke Bracey) infiltrates a team of thrill-seeking elite athletes suspected of perpetrating a spate of highly unusual crimes. To celebrate the film’s extraordinary big wave surfing, wingsuit flying, sheer-face snowboarding, free rock climbing and high-speed motocross stunts – all performed for real – here’s a look back at some other truly spectacular movie stunts.
1. Batman flips The Joker’s truck in The Dark Knight (2008)
Special effects supervisor Chris Courbould tried to persuade director Christopher Nolan to use a smaller truck for this stunt, but the director insisted on using a full-size 18-wheeler. Coulbould’s team managed to execute the flip successfully by placing a large remote-controlled piston under the truck and securing its driver in place with steel bars. “I couldn’t believe my eyes,” Courlboud said after the test run. “It had to go over straight, and it literally deviated off course by no more than six inches.”
2. James Bond bungee jumps off the Contra Dam at the start of Goldeneye (2002)
Although this scene gave us our first glimpse of Pierce Brosnan’s 007, the leap itself was actually performed by a stuntman called Wayne Michaels. Thrill-seekers can now pay £170 to emulate Bond and bungee jump off the terrifying-looking Swiss dam themselves. Remarkably, as of August 2014 around 20,000 people had chosen to brave its 220m drop.
3. Tom Cruise clings to the outside of a plane during take-off in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015)
Cruise is known for performing a large number of his own stunts and this surely ranks among the most dangerous. “[In the scene] his feet slip off the plane and he really is holding on for his life,” stunt coordinator Wade Eastwood later recalled. Cruise even refused to wear goggles so the audience would be able to see the genuine fear in his eyes. Instead, the crew had to apply a special protective coating akin to thick contact lenses to his retinas.
4. Harrison Ford is chased by a giant boulder in Raiders Of The Lost Ark (1981)
The original Indiana Jones film begins with a famous sequence in which Ford’s hero is forced out of an underground temple by a fast-rolling boulder. The film’s props team actually made the orb out of wood, plaster and Fibreglass and it ended up weighing in at over 350kg. Director Steven Spielberg later said: “Harrison had to race the rock 10 times. He won 10 times and beat the odds. He was lucky. And I was an idiot for letting him try.”
5. The iconic “bus jump” in Speed (1994)
Speed‘s stuntman Jophery Brown really did steer the bus through mid-air – he soared for around 30m by hitting a ramp at 60mph after a mile-long run-up. But there wasn’t actually a sheer drop beneath him: that section of the road was digitally removed in post-production. Still, you wouldn’t want to try it yourself, would you?
6. The incredible real-life surfing scenes in Point Break (2016)
To ensure the new Point Break movie is even more breathtaking than the 1991 original, top surfing professionals were hired as stuntmen, stunt co-ordinators and technical advisors. “What audiences will see is real,” says the film’s producer Christopher Taylor. “And that meant it first had to pass the test with the athletes themselves. That was our goal and our benchmark from the start.” Remarkably, it’s not just the film’s surfing action that’s completely genuine; every single stunt in the film was carried out for real too.
Point Break opens in cinemas on February 5 and you can book tickets at pointbreaktickets.co.uk.
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