Measure twice, send once.
Hollywood loves motorcycle chases. We’ve all seen our fair share over the years. Some iconic, some not so much. While most of us couldn’t pull off the maneuvers we see on the silver screen, that doesn’t stop us from knowing what’s plausible and what’s Tinseltown forgery. Thankfully, GQ sat down with stunt performer Rick English to break down the practicality of the greatest motorcycle chases in Hollywood’s history.
Never shying away from controversy, the video opens with English calling bull on Terminator 2’s Harley-Davidson Fat Boy jump. Now, we all know that a 650-pound cruiser wouldn’t handle a three-story drop to a cement river bed. However apparent that fact may be, that cold open delivers a dose of confirmation bias for us motorcyclists and an easily accessible factoid for non-riders.
The same could be said of the Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation clip. We all know the importance of eye protection on a motorcycle, especially at triple-digit speeds. A small detail like Tom Cruise picking up sunglasses for a helmetless ride on a BMW S 1000 RR can quickly ruin the immersive experience. T.C. riding at 130 mph without safety gear is what makes the scene so exhilarating, it would be a shame if our attention were on his teary, windburned eyes instead.
From The Dark Knight’s rotating Bat Pod wheel to The World’s Fastest Indian’s damage-less crash, English doesn’t hesitate to call out inconsistencies between the celluloid world and reality. However, some of the most intriguing moments come in the form of insider knowledge. Working on several titles in the supercut, English reveals how the Ghost Rider bike maneuvered on “its own”, how stuntmen protected their heads during the Skyfall dirt bike chase without a conventional helmet, and the Mission Impossible team’s inspiration for a spectacular bike explosion.
That blend of general motorcycle knowledge and Hollywood insider intel runs throughout the 38-minute YouTube video and only adds to our appreciation of our favorite scenes. Do we love the T2 jump any less now that we know it was achieved with a safety rig? Nope. Can we still enjoy John Wick 3’s berserk MT-09 fight scene despite the fact that it was primarily filmed on a stage? Yup. I don’t know about you, but I think I’m in the mood for a motorcycle chase scene now.