MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – Gadgets in M:I 1, 2, and 3!

Podcast Episode

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – Gadgets in M:I 1, 2, and 3!

Join Dan and Tom as they decode the gadgets in Mission: Impossible 1 – 3. Masks, Exploding gum, microdots, human-embedded bombs, and more!


Masks and real disguise expert! Exploding gum! Eyeglasses with cameras, liquid nitrogen? Bombs in your head, microdots, eye scanning devices and more!

Join Dan and Tom as they decode the gadgets in Mission: Impossible 1, 2 and 3!

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In this episode, we look at following gadgets from the first three Mission: Impossible movies:

  • Masks
  • Exploding gum
  • Eyeglasses with cameras
  • Liquid Nitrogen
  • Microdots
  • Voice synthesizers
  • Nekhorvich’s timer
  • Oakley Romeo Sunglasses
  • Wi-Fi binoculars
  • Exploding charges implanted in heads
  • And More

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Mission: Impossible III

Mission: Impossible III, editorial content, spy movies, espionage, spy movie podcasts, Tom Cruise
Mission: Impossible III

Tom Cruise is back as Ethan Hunt for the third go-around in Mission: Impossible III.

This 2006 movie again brings back Ethan Hunt.  This time, he has a fiancé, Julia.  She gets kidnapped as a result of yet another failed mission for Ethan’s team (capturing Davian).

In this curation (and in the podcast), we discuss things beyond the scope of the movie, and its interrelationship with other movies and events:

    • The uniqueness of pre-title sequence
    • Other films mentioned: Mission: Impossible (1); Mission: Impossible II; The 39 Steps; Pulp Fiction; Monty Python and the Holy Grail; The Maltese Falcon; Goldeneye; Goldfinger; True Lies; Casino Royale (2006)
    • Spies getting married and results: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Licence to Kill
    • Bond and Bourne movie mentions
    • The Rabbit’s Foot is a MacGuffin
    • Ethan Hunt’s lowering on cable and Goldeneye – bungee jump link
    • Villains transported on bridges and escaping – again! Licence to Kill, True Lies
    • Ethan’s arrest, like Bond having his license revoked
    • Benji fears for his job, as Q did in Bond’s SPECTRE

MI3 Pre-Title Sequence

Mission: Impossible III was directed by J.J. Abrams. He was also the creator of the television show “Alias”.   That TV show used long pre-title sequences, so it is no surprise that Mission: Impossible III has a pre-title sequence, although it is short by “Alias” standards.

The movie’s pre-title sequence has a unique twist among spy movies. Namely, the pre-title is taken from a climactic scene from later in the movie.   We are led to believe that Julia is shot to death just as the fuse is lit starting the title sequence.  At this point, we don’t know who Julia is. When you see the scene again in the latter part of the movie, a twist is revealed: the woman who was shot was not Julia, but rather she was Davian’s translator and head of security wearing a mask to look like Julia.

Early in the Mission: Impossible films, the series takes the audience in one direction and later swings a completely different direction, often with the use of masks.   In Mission: Impossible (I) the audience is led to believe that Jim Phelps “dies” when the mission goes wrong. In reality, he wasn’t dead, but he staged it to look like he had died which we don’t find out about until flashbacks later in the film.   In Mission: Impossible II, the plane taking Dr. Nekhorvich is commandeered by Sean Ambrose who used a mask to make the audience believe that it was Ethan Hunt doing the bad deed.

MI3 Party Scene

In the party scene, we find out that Ethan and Julia are engaged. For some reason, spy movies like to have agents get married in a film or two.   In On Her Majesty’s  Secret Service, James Bond marries Tracy.   In Licence to Kill, Felix Leiter marries Della. It does not end well for the women they marry.   In fact, in Licence to Kill, Della’s father tells her “I told you this was a mistake”. Is there any reason to believe things will end better for Julia?

In the clip for this section, we see Ethan boring one of the party attendees (Kevin) with a story about how he works for the department of transportation.   Kevin is played by Greg Grunberg who also played Eric in J.J. Abram’s “Alias” television show. Greg and J.J. have been friends since kindergarten and has appeared in many projects which J.J. has been associated with.

One other parallel to “Alias” is that unlike Jason Bourne or James Bond, the theme of family is strong with Ethan hiding the fact that he is an agent from his fiancé and their friends. This was a common idea throughout “Alias”. In Bond and Bourne, there is almost no association with family.   When Bond marries Tracy, her father is well aware of who Bond is.

In Mission: Impossible III, Ethan leaves the party to meet up with Musgrave. Ethan gets his mission from a disposable camera. It is yet another unique way of having the mission defined for the team leader.  In Mission: Impossible (1), Jim Phelps gets his mission on the plane. In Mission: Impossible II, Ethan gets his mission in a pair of sunglasses which were a precursor to the Microsoft HoloLens.

MI3 Lindsey Farris

Lindsey Farris is a young agent in the IMF who has been captured by Davian.   This scene is part of the extraction of Lindsey from where she was being held.   She is complaining about something that obviously is hurting her. Davian has injected an explosive device in her skull. This comes back into play toward the end of the movie when Davian does something similar to Ethan.   Just before this clip, Lindsey tries to warn Ethan about something.   We don’t find out what that was until a microdot she mailed him is evaluated later in the film.

This scene brings the extraction team together; Luther (Ving Rhames), Declan (Johnathan Rhys Meyers), and Zhen (Maggie Q) are all part of the extraction team.

It is yet another failed initial mission for Ethan in the series.   In Mission: Impossible (I), the mission to grab the NOC list from Golitsyn goes bad with agents dying.

MI3 The Rabbit’s Foot

In the pre-title sequence, there is mention of something called the “Rabbit’s Foot”. Ethan needs to get the Rabbit’s Foot and bring it to Davian. In this clip, this scene, Benji speculates about the Rabbit’s Foot, even describing it as the anti-god.

The Rabbit’s Foot is a MacGuffin. Although many of you will know this term, others might not.   A MacGuffin is a device used in a story which serves as the driving force for the action. It often has no explanation as to what it is. Its definition isn’t important to the plot.   Just its existence is. Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps was one of the first spy films to use a MacGuffin, but many more films use the MacGuffin as a technique to have something upon which to base the action of the film. Some examples include the briefcase in Pulp Fiction and Ronin, the Holy Grail in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and the statue in The Maltese Falcon. J.J. Abrams uses MacGuffin’s in “Alias” as well with the Rambaldi Artifacts.

MI3 Ethan and Julia’s Wedding

This scene again focuses on Ethan’s deception to Julia about his job.   It ends with them getting married. It is very rare in spy films for agents to get married. It is even more rare for the starring agent to get married.   As mentioned earlier, James Bond marries Tracy and that’s about it. It is even more poignant later in the series with the film Mission: Impossible – Fallout when we see what has happened to Ethan and Julia’s relationship.

MI3 Humpty Dumpty

This scene shows the mission of breaking into the Vatican so that the team can kidnap Davian.   There are two stunts in the scene.   The first one has Ethan running up a wall. The second is the now-familiar falling-with-a-cable-attached-spreading-the-arms-and-just-missing-the-ground type of stunt.   This has happened in all of the first 3 Mission: Impossible films:   In the CIA vault in Mission: Impossible (I), the atrium dive in Mission: Impossible II, and now, here. In this author’s opinion, it was very cool in the CIA vault but is a tired stunt by now.

In the pre-title sequence of Goldeneye, James Bond bungee jumps off the Verzasca Dam, from a height of 220 meters.   He doesn’t end up doing the Ethan Hunt spread eagle pose, but he does jump off the wall of the dam and hurtles toward the bottom of the dam. You can see it here.

At the end of the scene, Ethan has his workman outfit pulled off his body, leaving him with a priests’ outfit. It had somewhat of the same feel as when James Bond steps out of his wetsuit in the pre-title sequence of Goldfinger.


MI3 Grabbing Davian

There is a lengthy scene as the IMF team is in the Vatican to kidnap Davian. This clip shows the scene in the bathroom when the team grabs Davian.   Ethan is wearing a mask and is dressed as Davian. After they grab Davian, he has to speak into a device that lets Luther program Ethan’s voice to be that of Davian’s.

This scene shows both Ethan disguised as Davian as well as the actual Davian together.   In Mission: Impossible (I), the ending scene on the train has something similar, with Ethan portraying Jim Phelps and then Jim shows up.

MI3 Goodbye Lamborghini

Ethan needs to leave the Vatican with everyone thinking he is Davian. Ethan as Davian leaves with Zhen in the Lamborghini Gallardo. In the meantime, Declan lowers the real Davian into a sewer. Zhen stops the car over a sewer manhole and the team descends from the car into the sewer. Finally, Zhen blows up the Lamborghini Gallardo.

One thing can be said for spy movies: they like to destroy beautiful cars.

MI3 Bridge Scene

Villains being transported on a bridge and escaping while on the bridge is a common plot point in movies.   In License to Kill, the villain (Sanchez) is under arrest and being driven on 7 Mile Bridge in the Florida Keys (USA) when he escapes. In True Lies, the villains are also trying to escape while driving on 7 Mile Bridge.   Harry Tasker (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and Albert Gibson (Tom Arnold) are part of the team that destroys the bridge while capturing the villains.   In Mission: Impossible 3, it is the Chesapeake Bay Bridge (Maryland, USA) that is used.   Davian’s team blows things up on the bridge and he makes his escape.

MI3 Davian grabs Julia and Ethan is arrested

While Davian’s henchman kidnaps Julia, Ethan is arrested for the debacle at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and losing Davian.   This is reminiscent of M’s revoking James Bond’s licence to kill in the film with the same title. The bosses don’t like it when things go wrong and the spy needs to escape from people in his own organization.

MI3 Ethan Escapes

Wearing a mask that is similar to the mask worn by Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs, Ethan is able to escape and heads to Singapore at the guidance of Musgrave.

I guess if you have a mask that looks like that in a movie, your next move is to escape.

MI3 Back to the Beginning

We’re now back at the scene that was used for the pre-title sequence.   We see that Julia wasn’t the person shot and Ethan goes looking for her.   Additional shots are added to the scene.  Like in all the Mission: Impossible movies, a mask was used to deceive the audience.  We thought we saw one thing at the beginning of the film but really saw something different. After this scene, Musgrave talks to Ethan and exposes that Musgrave is the bad guy in the IMF.

MI3 Benji Fears For His Job

Mission: Impossible III was released in 2006.  Nine years later in the 2015 James Bond film Spectre, Q (Ben Whishaw) has a discussion with James Bond where he is worried about losing his job for helping Bond out. The dialog is very similar to how Benji is talking about losing his job with Ethan in this scene.  I had to listen to each scene again to make sure they weren’t word-for-word dialogue.

MI3 Final Fight – Ethan Dies

This is the climactic fight scene. There is a piece of the action that feels somewhat familiar. In the 1994 movie, Pulp Fiction Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman) has overdosed on heroin.   Vincent Vega (John Travolta) slams a syringe of adrenaline into her chest.   Mia breathes loud and deep and sits up and gasps as she recovers. See it here.

In the 2006 film Casino Royale, James Bond (Daniel Craig) almost dies of poisoning, he has to stick a needle in his neck, passes out, his heart stops and he is revived by Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) with a defibrillator. See it here.

Finally, in Mission: Impossible III, also released in 2006, a portion of the fight scene includes a point where Ethan has to stop his heart so that he can disable the bomb planted in his brain.  Julia, conveniently a doctor, then uses a CPR to bring him back. She struggles to revive him and then slams her fist into his chest multiple times.   Ethan comes to with a gasp and sits upright, grabbing the gun.   So this scene is similar to the near-death scenes for 007 and Mia, but in this case, there was no antidote delivered by a needle, just CPR was needed.


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