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Daring Action Scenes You'd Never Guess Were Real

Remember when everyone went nuts about the bear attack scene in The Revenant? It was partly because it kind of looked like the bear was trying to do a lot more than just eat Leo, but mostly because everything looked shockingly real. Turns out the bear was entirely CGI and Leo's just really great at acting. Unlike that scene, however, many other seemingly unreal movie moments were actually done with practical effects in very real (sometimes death-defying) conditions. Here are just some. 

Bane's escape in The Dark Knight Rises

Christopher Nolan's love of practical effects is no secret. Remember the tractor trailer flipping over in the streets of Chicago for The Dark Knight? It's no surprise the director ramped up the real-life action for 2012's The Dark Knight Rises. In the opening scene, Bane escapes from a plane after blowing it in half and he's pulled onto another by henchmen dangling from ropes. NBD, right? When discussing the scene at the Tribeca Film Festival, Nolan revealed they dropped a real plane out of the sky, and they did it all in two days thanks to crew members "who worked for months." That means real people blew a real plane out of the sky for a movie about a guy who dresses like a bat and is super-good at karate. Seems perfectly reasonable.

Plane scene in Mission: Impossible–Rogue Nation

The Mission: Impossible franchise significantly added to the legacy of Tom Cruise, mostly because he does much of his own stunt work. Each film ramps up the stakes to ridiculously high levels, and in 2015's Rogue Nation, Cruise pulls off at least one irresponsibly crazy maneuver: the scene (prominently featured in the film's marketing) in which he hangs from the side of a massive cargo plane during takeoff–as in, flies into the sky. While the controllable dangers involved with this stunt are obvious, Cruise could have died if a random bird flew into him. So they had to do it in one take, right? Think again. Cruise told Yahoo! Movies: "I did it eight times." There's dedication to a role, and then there's whatever you call what Tom Cruise does.

Ship's Mast in Death Proof

Zoe Bell is an accomplished stunt performer, and she caught Quentin Tarantino's attention when she worked as Uma Thurman's double for Kill Bill. The director cast her in 2007's Death Proof–his contribution to the '70s B-movie homage, Grindhouse. For the "Ship's Mast" stunt, Bell spent the better part of six weeks amazingly not dying while strapped to the hood of a Dodge Challenger speeding around desolate, Eastern European roads. The result is a harrowing sequence in which she clings to the hood as Kurt Russell slams his car into it again and again. She wasn't hurt, but we're positive at least a few movie theater seats had to be replaced.

Windsuit scene in Point Break

Not everyone was convinced a remake of Point Break was necessary, which is probably why filmmakers of the 2015 reboot decided to pack it with real, dangerous stunts. They reached out to some of the world's top extreme athletes and asked if they wouldn't mind being in a movie that suggests a bunch of bank-robbing surfers could easily do what they do. The wingsuit scene, in particular, was shot with four athletes who did 60 jumps, all while going faster than 100 mph. Apparently no one told them they were risking their lives for a remake of a movie with the tagline "We're going to be meat waffles." You know what? It's probably better they didn't.

Helicopter rescue in True Lies

Jamie Lee Curtis won a Golden Globe for 1994's True Lies, but she probably didn't have to try hard to portray sheer terror in one scene. It's the one in which Arnold Schwarzenegger yanks her from the sunroof of a limo onto a moving helicopter just as the car plunges into the ocean. Curtis said she doesn't often talk about stunts because "it ruins the experience," but she did reveal that's really her hanging in the sky. However, she also acknowledged that her stunt double, Donna Keegan, also worked on the scene. Curtis said, "I had the same vantage point as the stuntwoman had a couple times."

Helicopter fight in Crank

Jason Statham must have thought audiences would like 2006's Crank a little more if he put his life on the line. In the movie's memorable finale, he dangles from a helicopter in the middle of a fight. Although he finished the scene without trouble, co-star Pablo Cantillo cracked his head open and required stitches. But fans know why the risk was worth it: Filmmakers used a cinéma vérité approach to the movie, and it would have been a real shame to lose believability with cheap CGI.

Polecats' swinging party in Mad Max: Fury Road

Almost every action sequence in 2015's Mad Max: Fury Road was created with human stunt performers, and it culminates with one final battle. In the chaotic scene, bad guys fire weapons while pivoting on giant poles mounted to speeding vehicles. Stunt coordinator Guy Norris told Rolling Stone that a Cirque du Soleil performer trained the stuntmen in "Chinese pole work" during an eight-week course. That's an interesting way to phrase it: The actors were repeatedly smashed into the ground and run over by giant speeding tires. The entire movie is an astonishing adrenaline rush, and the fact that this scene was pulled off by real people (all of whom lived) just makes it even more incredible.