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.

Opening Scene

This sequence is really about a heist of a nasty virus called Chimera and its antidote, Bellerophon. Dr. Nekhorvich injects himself with Chimera and needs to go to Atlanta. He takes the antidote in his briefcase. He has 20 hours to reach his destination for “After you’ve been infected with Chimera, for 20 hours, nothing can save you. Not even Bellerophon.” His partner in the development ended up getting the virus and died just as they figured out the antidote. This happens before the film starts. On the plane, he is sitting next to Ethan Hunt who he is calling Dmitry. The plane experiences “cabin pressure” problems and they tell the passengers to put on their oxygen masks. There must be something in the “oxygen” as all who put on their mask pass out. A team of bad guys, including the pilot don’t put on their masks and are unaffected. The pilot sets the plane on a course to crash into a mountain. “Dmitry” hits the doctor and stands up, pulls off a mask and is really the villain, Sean Ambrose. The team grabs the briefcase and parachutes out of the plane which then crashes into a mountain. We’ve seen multiple movies with bad guys jumping out of planes, crashing planes, etc. This just follows the same formula, except this time you initially think it is Ethan Hunt on the plane.

Mission: Impossible II

Mission Impossible II, Tom Cruise, Ehtam Hunt

In the second installment of Mission: Impossible, Tom Cruise returns to his role as Ethan Hunt.  So, we know it will be tense.  Mission: Impossible II keeps the intrigue going. 

In this curation of the movie, we talk about other movies as they relate to this film, and look for other connections:

  • The opening with masks!
  • Link to article about how they shot the rock climbing scene in the intro PLUS video of John Woo (director) discussing this scene
  • Meeting Nyah influenced by West Side Story – here we show a scene from West Side Story so you can see for yourself!
  • Bond definitely influenced this movie
  • No dialogue in scenes similar to scenes in other movies like The Spy Who Loved Me(Union Jack Parachute), Goldeneye (bungee jump off a 750-foot dam), Rififi and Topkapi
  • We need help finding a scene in another movie similar to the Stop Stumbling scene in M: I II!
  • Dueling motorcycles like a Disney scene in Lion King!

Mission Impossible Opening

Most spy and action movies today include pre-title sequences, including James Bond, Mission: Impossible, and some Bourne films. In Mission: Impossible the movie opens with the IMF team (Impossible Mission Force) trying to obtain the name of the contact in Minsk (Dimitri Miedev) from a Russian. We don’t know at first who any of the people in the room are and no names are used. We don’t know why they want the name. It is irrelevant as it has nothing to do with the rest of the plot. This scene really sets up the film for the television fans as it answers one of the concerns they would have: How much will this feel like the TV show? Two minutes into the scene, the guy who asked the questions and kills the Russian, walks over to the anteroom and REMOVES HIS MASK, revealing agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise). Yes, the masks are there, the TV fans can feel at home. One of the goals of the first Mission: Impossible film, had to be to show the TV show fans that the movie should feel that it is really based on the “Mission: Impossible” television show as they remember. The pre-title and title sequences meet this goal. If a viewer hadn’t seen the TV show, it’s not a big deal, but a few very important things come out of the first six minutes of the show that the TV fans expect to see. In future Mission: Impossible films, the pre-title sequences do set up the rest of the films. The concept of masks as used here to disguise your real identity and present yourself as someone else really goes back to the movie, The List of Adrian Messenger where this concept is pioneered.  Of course, From Russia With Love in 1963 opens i the pre-title sequence with a Bond dying, only to reveal as the mask is pulled off, it was someone else.  Check out our podcast on this. This scene does have a similarity to The Godfather: Part II.   In The Godfather: Part II, Senator Pat Geary wakes up next to a dead woman. He can’t remember what happened “I don’t know how it happened … I passed out”. He had been set up and was framed. He hadn’t really killed her.   In the Mission: Impossible pre-title sequence, the Russian has a similar situation.   There appears to be a dead woman and he is saying he doesn’t know what happened. We got this information from this clip. This pre-title sequence does set up one plot point in the film.   Jim Phelps is not on this mission. We find out later he was in Chicago at the Drake Hotel for a meeting.   This becomes important later and isn’t highlighted in the pre-title sequence.  

Mission: Impossible (1996)

Mission: Impossible 1, editorial content, spy movies, espionage, spy movie podcasts, Tom Cruise
Mission: Impossible 1

In 1996, Paramount Pictures and Cruise/Wagner Productions released the first movie of the Mission: Impossible series.  So, the first of the series is called Mission: Impossible and did not have a number.   We will call it here Mission: Impossible (1996)  since we now have multiple great additions to the Mission: Impossible series.

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

  • Relationship to Mission: Impossible TV Series
  • The masks!
  • Other movies mentioned: The Godfather: Part II; Mission: Impossible II, Mission: Impossible III, and Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol; Dr. No; Operation Amsterdam; The Sting;  Lethal Weapon 2; Duece Bigalow: Male Gigalow;  Total Recall;  Push;  Eraser;  Jackie Chan’s First Strike; A Low-Down Dirty Shame; Topkapi;  Rififi; The Wolverine;  The General (1926;  The Flying Scotsman (1929);  From Russia With Love;  Skyfall
  • Importance of The Drake Hotel in Chicago – even though it is never shown on-screen
  • A connection to No!
  • Origin of “the secretary will disavow. . .” – Operation Amsterdam!
  • The Vault Scene: modeled after Topkapi? Rififi?  We do an analysis!
  • The train scene – and others before and after: The Wolverine, The General (1926) The Flying Scotsman (1929), From Russia With Love, Skyfall

Intro – Rock Climbing Scene

The title sequence shows Ethan Hunt rock climbing at Dead Horse Point in Utah. It is a visually stunning scene with the red rock formations with a person climbing them alone. While the shots are real shots, no one would really climb this formation like Cruise is doing it. Once Ethan gets to the top, a helicopter appears and shoots something at Ethan’s feet. This ends up being the mission “tape” displayed on a pair of sunglasses that have HoloLens-type augmented reality built-in. Ethan looks over the canyon and the mission tape plays in the lens. He can see both. Ethan gets his mission, Mission “Chimera”. This mission involves the recovery of a stolen item designated Chimera. He can pick any 2 team members he wants, but the third team members must be Nyah Nordoff-Hall. She is a professional thief and not part of the agency. The “your mission, should you choose to accept it” and “as always if any member of your IM Force is caught or killed, the Secretary will disavow all knowledge of your actions”. The “tape” self-destructing is handled by Ethan throwing the glasses and they explode. This lights the fuse and away we go. The Lalo Shiffrin soundtrack underscores this scene making an old Mission: Impossible fan quite happy. The television show would switch out what device played the mission so this was an updated way to deliver it that looked great. One of the best things about the of the Mission: Impossible series is that Tom Cruise performs many of his own stunts, you just don’t get to see the cables. This avoids clumsy camera angles or, even worse, CGI face-replacements (ala some of the latest James Bonds). As in Mission: Impossible 1 (MI 1), there is always a slip. In the vault in MI 1, the rope slips and Ethan almost hits the floor. In this movie, he almost slips off the rock. The only place they used his stunt double, Keith Campbell, is when he has the slip. Notice you don’t see his face then. It will be interesting to see stunts are handled when Cruise finally just can’t deliver on the stunts as he ages. However, in this film, he’s in great shape and pulls this off well. Ron Kauk is the climbing stunt double who teaches Tom Cruise how to do most of the stunts. The top of the cliff is about 600 feet to the talus slope and another 2000 feet to the river. One other interesting note: Ethan hangs in a crucifix position near the top of the rock. Supposedly the director, John Woo, has a crucifix position in every film. This article explains how they shot this scene.

Opening Title Sequence

This mask scene spills into the title sequence. The title appears to be designed to further hook the TV show fans. First, there is Lalo Schifrin’s wonderful Mission: Impossible Theme song and the lit fuse which instantly brings the viewer back to the TV series. Lalo’s awesome theme: It’s back. The next part of the title sequence keeps the nostalgia going. As the music plays and the opening title credits are shown, snippets from the rest of the movie are shown. This lets us in on who some of the characters we will see are, as well as giving us a glimpse of some of the upcoming action. Not too much, just a tease. The TV series did this as well in its opening titles. It’s a nice touch they carried over for this film but unfortunately didn’t carry it over to Mission: Impossible II and Mission: Impossible III. We wonder why they didn’t, but they brought it back starting with Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol. One thing about the snippets that hits home for me is how it feels like an overture to the movie, much like a Broadway musical usually has an overture to get you familiar with the music and make you want to hear more. This title sequence gives the audience a taste and makes us want more.

Mountain Climbing Behind The Scenes

In this video, John Woo discusses the rock-climbing scene.

This message will self-destruct

Bringing the TV fan back with "This tape will self-destruct..."

For fans of the Mission: Impossible television show, there are a few nuggets at the beginning of the movie.  We hear "This tape will self-destruct" and "Your Mission, should you choose to accept it" early on in the movie.  "This tape will self-destruct" does change in later Mission: Impossible movies to "This message will self-destruct" First, we get the recording that explains the mission. Second, we meet Jim Phelps.  He is the only character returning from the television show.  In this movie, John Voight plays Jim Phelps. He is the character who quarterbacks the mission. Peter Graves played Jim Phelps on the television show.  He was asked to do a cameo in the first movie.  However, he  declined after finding out what they do to his character in the movie. We’ll talk about that with the clip on the Jim Phelps and Ethan restaurant scene.

Key directives

Finally, we get the description of the mission. Plus, we see who is on the team. Additionally, “Your mission Jim, should you choose to accept it” and “As always, should you or any member of your IM Force be caught or killed, the Secretary will disavow all knowledge of your actions” appear here.  "This tape will self-destruct in 5 seconds” also is here, bringing the past forward for the Mission: Impossible TV fan. Yes, Yes, and Yes. They have the taped mission that self-destructs, they have the “your mission should you choose to accept it”, and the disavowed message. This film feels like it is on the right track. In the television show, there was the Tape Scene (“Your mission should you choose to accept it”) followed by the Dossier Sequence (putting the team together in the first 2 seasons). These are combined in the movie with the assignment and team designation all in one tape. The good part about the pre-title sequence, titles, and mission briefing is that if you remember the TV show, you’ll feel nostalgic. However, if you don’t know the TV show, you are still getting what you need to know as these sequences set the movie plot very well.

Heritage of "This message will self-destruct..."

Two little fun facts regarding the heritage of parts of this revolve around the “This tape will self-destruct...” and “the Secretary will disavow …” phrases: In the Mission: Impossible television series and films we hear the phrase “This tape will self-destruct”.  This is part of the mission description.  The television show debuted in 1966. Again, the phrase was changed in later Mission: Impossible movies to "This message will self-destruct ...".  In the 1962 film, Dr. No, M tells James Bond says, "I'll have a set of background papers to date delivered to you at the airport in a self-destructor bag". This is the first discussion we’ve found in a spy film about self-destructing background material.   We aren’t positive “Mission: Impossible” took this and ran with it or it is just a coincidence. The phrase  “should you or any member of your IM Force be caught or killed, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your action” is heard here. This concept appears to be an adaptation of something that happened in an earlier spy move.   The 1959 film, called Operation Amsterdam is based on a true story,  where the leader who is sending three men out on this mission says: “Incidentally...if you're caught... we cannot help you.” It is also similar to a piece in the 1939 movie Q Planes.  Major Hammond gets his direction from his boss.  It includes the lines "Unofficially, of course, you understand. I'll give you every facility, but if he finds you out, you're acting against instructions."

Ties to Dr. No

So the self-destructor bag from Dr. No and "Incidentally... if you're caught . . ." came from earlier films and were enhanced in Mission: Impossible.   We will see this played out again in the vault scene later in the film.

In Conclusion

The beginning of this movie should make any fan of the Television show happy.  We're really glad the "This message will self-destruct ..." is included, even though it's been modified to the word "message" instead of "tape" in later Mission: Impossible movies. RELATED CONTENT:

Meeting Nyah

While at a party in Seville, Spain, a troupe of flamenco dancers puts on a show. Ethan Hunt sees Nyah, they look at each other and are moving around the stage area. A dancer spins and Nyah disappears. She’s headed upstairs to steal a Bulgari necklace. The dance scene itself was influenced by the dance at the gym in “West Side Story”. Director John Woo put it this way: “The idea came from West Side Story. I want to make a very sexy love-at-first-sight moment”.

First Mission

This clip isn’t the whole scene as the scene is about 16 minutes long. The first mission, as explained by the briefing is to get the NOC (Non-Official Cover) list from Golitsyn. From the film: “we photograph Golitsyn stealing the NOC list, follow him to his buyer, apprehend both of them”. This scene starts at the Embassy in Prague at a party. Ethan Hunt poses as US Senator John Waltzer, chair of the US Armed Services. He has a mask to make him look like the senator. The mission starts out fine but goes bad fast.   Ethan Hunt and Sarah Davies get the picture of Golitsyn stealing the NOC list. Things start to go bad as Jack Harmon struggles to get the systems working.   In fact, he has such troubles that he ends up dying from an elevator gone rogue. Jim Phelps tells the team that someone is on to them and to abort the mission. He runs across the bridge, gets shot and falls in the water.   The rest of Ethan’s team gets killed, except for Ethan Hunt and Claire.   At least that’s what we are led to believe.   However, later we find out that Jim Phelps survived too. One nice touch is that Jack Harmon has been billed as a guy who can hack into any system.   I’ve spent 30 years in the Information Technology field and I hate it when a film has someone hack into anything in 2 seconds and never have any problems.   Jack struggles, in part due to Jim’s efforts, but this would be closer to reality than we normally see in films. This scene shows us the mission as it goes awry. We find out what happened later, but the technique used here is to fool the audience (and the IMF team) and make them think they are seeing one thing while another thing is happening. The Mission: Impossible television show relied on confidence games.   The original production team members were big fans of the book The Big Con and the movie The Sting.   The characters in the show and the person reading or watching would get fooled into believing they were seeing one thing and really another thing was going on.   The television show used that technique often.   This mission is one of those scenarios as we will discuss in the Restaurant Scene discussion.

Love At First Sight

Here is the scene from “West Side Story” The isolation of Tony and Maria is much more dramatic than what Woo did with Ethan and Nyah, but there is definitely a similar feel. As part of the heist, Ethan and Nyah end up in a bathtub lying in it to hide. The dialogue here is rather cheeky. Nyah asks Ethan “Do you mind if I’m on top”. This scene feels more like a scene from a Pierce Brosnan James Bond film than most Mission: Impossible scenes. Nyah comes off like a Bond girl. In the first film, there really isn’t a female role like this. Maybe you can say Claire, but that was a totally different feel. In the bathtub, there is an innocent, yet teasing conversation between Ethan and Nyah. When the guards come, Ethan passes the lock picking kit she used to Nyah behind his back. The banter, sexual overtones and overall cheekiness of this scene really feel like Bond interacting with a Bond girl. It is a very different feel than the first film but feels more in place if you are a Bond fan.

Car Chase

Ethan chases after her in a Porsche and calls her mobile phone. “Where did you get this number? I don’t even have it she says.” There is a car chase where they talk between the two convertibles. Ethan tells her he needs her help and she realizes he is a spy. I don’t know how they could talk at that speed and car noise, but they do. Nyah crashes and hangs over a cliff. Ethan pulls her back into the car and they “connect.”  She agrees to help him out as they end up in bed. Again, this really feels like a Bond movie up through this point. The tone changes later, but it starts out with a very strong Bondian feel.

Restaurant Scene

In the television series, it was common for IMF agents to turn to the other side and go bad.   The main plot of each show was generally to catch these turncoats. This definitely gets carried over into the movie. In this scene, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) meets with Kittridge (Henry Czerny) at the Akvárium restaurant after the failed mission. Kittridge lets Ethan Hunt know that the mission was really a decoy.   There was a suspicion that one of the agents had turned to the other side.   The mission really was a set-up with another IMF team monitoring Jim Phelps’ team. Ethan Hunt called it a Mole Hunt. The CIA had intercepted a message from someone named Max who wanted to buy the NOC List from the turned agent. Max called it Job 314.   Job 314 ended up being the attempted stealing of the NOC List in the first mission in the film.   Kittridge tells Ethan that he is the prime suspect with the words: “and like you said, you survived”.  Ethan looks around the room and notices that the team working in the room were all at the party.  He realizes that there was a second IMF team involved.  Ethan freaks out and uses the only gadget he got from Jack Harmon to escape the restaurant. The gadget Ethan uses is an explosive device that he throws onto a very large aquarium.   This is a very well-done scene ending with the aquarium exploding and the contents flood the area as Ethan escapes. There is a mix of reality and some CGI but it is handled well. The use of exploding or crashing aquariums is not new. Examples of this can be found in many films that predate Mission: Impossible. In James Bond’s Octopussy, around the 1:19:12, Bond disposes of the chainsaw henchman by crashing his head into a fish tank (This occurs about half-way through this Clip).  In License to Kill, a guard shoots fish tank (See Clip), Bond uses this to help get the upper-hand in this fight.  The films Lethal Weapon 2, Duece Bigalow: Male Gigalow, Total Recall, Push, Eraser, Jackie Chan’s First Strike, and A Low-Down Dirty Shame all have scenes where aquariums are destroyed as part of the plot. One interesting curiosity is that Mission: Impossible, Eraser and Jackie Chan’s First Strike were all released in the same year (1996), making this a very bad year for aquariums.

Atrium Dive Scene

This has a similar feel to MI1 vault heist the way he is tethered down to just before hitting the floor. As in that scene, there is no score during the drop and for 2 minutes and 44 seconds until Sean Ambrose starts talking. This is something we will see in future “Mission: Impossible” films as well. Other films to use this silence during a drop include The Spy Who Loved Me (Union Jack Parachute), Goldeneye (bungee jump off a 750-foot dam), Rififi and Topkapi which both used an aerial descent with no score during the heist. It is an effective technique for focusing attention on the action and making you feel like you are there.

Just Stay Alive Scene

In this scene, Ethan parachutes out of the building. It is interesting as there is a continuation of the score right before he jumps. The score stops when the parachute opens and doesn’t come back until after Ethan says “Unless we dose her with Bellerophon, Nyah will kill herself. So, first things first”. Two short scenes and 1 ½ minutes later, the score starts up again.

Stop Mumbling! Scene

This scene is right out of another movie I can’t find. I believe in the other movie, someone has a hood covering their face and they get killed. I need help finding this movie! If you know what scene I'm thinking of, please email Tom@spymovienavigator.com or Dan@spymovienavigator.com.  We need to solve this as a community!

Motorcycle Chase Scene

In this motorcycle chase, there is a point when Sean Ambrose and Ethan Hunt jump off their motorcycles and smash into each other.

Meeting with Max

Ethan tells Max that he is going to steal the NOC list and wants to be paid for it. Although he is really going to steal the NOC List, this is only a setup so that he can catch whoever the turncoat agent is. He warns Max that the disc she got from the first mission was likely booby-trapped to let the CIA know the location of whoever tried to load the data file. Max doesn’t believe him but the CIA shows up and Max, her team, and Ethan barely get away. This sets up the trust between Max and Ethan.

Disney anyone?

Disney anyone? In this motorcycle chase, there is a point when Sean Ambrose and Ethan Hunt jump off their motorcycles and smash into each other. When I say this, my mind was instantly brought to the fight scene between Scar and Simba in Disney’s “Lion King”

Into the Vault Scene

Although Mission: Impossible is a spy movie, 11 and a half minutes of it are a heist.  This clip shows Ethan Hunt entering the vault to copy the NOC list.  It is only 2 minutes of the 11 and a half minutes of this scene in the film. The NOC List is a file on a computer at CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia in the US.   The room or vault where the computer lives is very heavily protected (sound, touch, temperature sensors) which requires a gutsy heist in order to get the file.   They decide that the only way to get to the computer with the file is to enter the vault from above, have Ethan be lowered into the vault without him touching anything, except the keyboard. Tom Cruise does this scene himself and is my favorite scene in the movie. It even has the “oops, I almost fell” part where Kreiger lets the rope slip. Ethan almost hits the ground. I can’t think of a movie that has a high-tension scene like this one that doesn’t have the “we almost blew it” part added to it. This scene is obviously modeled after the work of Jules Dassin. Dassin was the director of the 1964 heist film, Topkapi.   He received two Academy Award nominations for this film. He also directed the 1955 heist film Rififi (He won Best Director at the 1955 Cannes Film Festival for this film).  The heist scenes in these two films have key ideas which are used in the heist in Mission: Impossible.   All 3 films have lengthy planning discussions around how to deal with the alarm and how sensitive the room is to sound, and the floor is to touch in the case of Topkapi and Mission: Impossible. All 3 of the heists have the robbers coming into the area from the ceiling. One of the most noticeable ideas used in all 3 films is the lack of a score and almost total silence during the 3 heists. In Rififi, the heist takes up almost 30 minutes of film time and not a word is spoken, nor is a score played.  There are whatever natural noises appear in terms of footsteps and the like.   However, this scene is extremely quiet. This really added to the tension of the scene. It also caused some buzz when the film was released as it was a very novel way to put a scene like that together.   Who has silence for almost 30 minutes in a non-silent movie? And it works…wonderfully. Topkapi’s heist, on the other hand, is mostly silent, but there is some brief dialogue between the robbers. Again, there is no score. In the Mission: Impossible heist, there is more background noise in the scenes interspersed with William Donloe’s “stomach problems”. However, in the vault itself, there is very little dialogue and noise. The other key elements from Topkapi’s heist have to do with how they enter the robbery area.   In Topkapi, the robber (Giulio played by Gilles Ségal) is lowered headfirst from the ceiling using ropes.  In Mission: Impossible, Ethan is lowered in headfirst via cable. In both Topkapi and Mission: Impossible the robber then spins and goes from head-first to a horizontal suspension in the air.   Both films also have the rope slip and the robber just misses hitting the floor, which would sound the alarms. Finally, In Topkapi, Giulio has a very large light attached to his head.   In Mission: Impossible 1, Ethan has a much smaller light attached to his head. After seeing the light in Mission: Impossible 1 it is almost comical to see the huge light in Topkapi.   It just goes to show how technology changes in a 25-year timespan.  

Ethan meets Jim again

After the heist in Langley, Ethan sees that the Bible he used in the safe house was stamped “PLACED BY THE GIDEONS IN THE DRAKE HOTEL CHICAGO”. This is where he figures out what really happened and that Jim Phelps is the turncoat.   In the Apartment Sequence earlier in the film, Ethan Hunt tells Jim Phelps that they missed him in Kiev, and Jack Harmon asks, “were you on some cushy recruiting assignment again?” When Ethan asks, “Where did they put you up this time, The Plaza?” Jim answers, “The Drake Hotel. Chicago.”   Ah, yes, “24-hour room service, chauffeured cars . . .” It seems like a little background info for us as to the fact the team has been in Kiev, Jim was not, and Jim was in Chicago at The Drake Hotel. Ethan figured that if Jim was looking at the Bible from the Drake Hotel, it was to communicate with Max. This comes out in this scene with Jim and Ethan at the restaurant. Jim Phelps tracks down Ethan and has a discussion in a restaurant explaining that Kittridge was really the mole. While he talks through how Kittridge did it, clips are shown with what really happened. This is where the audience sees that Jim was really the mole.   Ethan plays along, even though he knows Jim is the mole. He lets Jim explain why someone would become a mole and doesn’t let Jim know that Ethan is on to him. As we've discussed before, the con has been played.   Jim tried to have Ethan, and the audience, believe that he was killed in the first mission.  The first time you watched the movie, I'm sure you were duped too.   This was a common theme in the television show as well. We've also discussed elsewhere that there was an attempt to pull the television show fans into this movie.   However, when I saw this in the theater, this scene is where I made the decision to stop watching any more Mission: Impossible movies.   In fact, from my first seeing this film, it was over 20 years before I watched the rest of the Mission: Impossible films.   I love spy movies, but I guess I can hold a grudge for a long time. I was very mad that Jim was the bad guy and had turned.   Yes, in the television show, most of the bad guys were agents, but Jim was always the good guy.   Why would you bring his character back into this movie only to make him the bad guy?   It made the twist very effective but really made me mad.

On the train

After Ethan gets the NOC List, he needs to meet with Max and the mole so they can catch the mole (Jim Phelps).   This second meeting with Max happens on a high-speed train that is to cross the English Channel. The train provides three scenes that are really the climax of the movie. The first scene has Ethan providing the NOC list to Max. Max had paid Ethan for the NOC List and wanted to upload it. Luther uses an electronic jamming device to keep Max from uploading the file before they hit the Chunnel.   Given that this was filmed in 1996 and that they were on a moving train, one can imagine how slow the phone line was that Max was trying to use. The next scene, which is where this clip is from is where it gets really fun. Claire walks into the luggage room on the train and sees Jim. She talks with Jim about how he is the mole and how they will set up Ethan and take the money. At this point, Jim stands up and PULLS OFF A MASK. In reality, she had been talking with Ethan. Ethan had made Claire believe he was Jim with the use of the mask. Then the real Jim walks out from behind another section of the luggage car. Ethan gives her the money and then puts on a pair of glasses with a camera built-in, letting Jim know that Kittridge has seen that he was still alive. Jim then kills Claire and has a quick fight with Ethan before escaping out of the luggage car.

The final train scene

The climax of the movie occurs on the outside of the train. This is a fantastic use of CGI and real footage. In this scene, Jim is trying to escape to a helicopter piloted by Krieger. It has some exciting footage of the helicopter attached to the train and the action continues into the tunnel. It is hard to believe that in reality, the helicopter would have been able to fly like that in a tunnel, but it makes for some great drama. The final shot of this scene is of the train conductor, brilliantly played by David Schneider, looking up after the train stops and then he faints. The look on his face says it all.  There are some reviews I've read saying that this was the worst piece of the movie.   However, David's look worked for me. Trains are used a lot in movies as they are a confined space with no easy escape (maybe except for Silver Streak). A few films keep the action inside the train.   For instance, in James Bond’s From Russia With Love, there is a tremendous fight scene between Bond and Red Grant.   That scene happens inside the train.   Skyfall has a nice exterior fight scene. The Wolverine has something somewhat similar (ok there is no helicopter) using a bullet train with Wolverine on top of the train in a fight with Yakuza. From what we’ve been able to find, the 1926 Buster Keaton film The General and 1929 movie The Flying Scotsman were the first movies to show action with a person on the outside of a moving train.

Ending Scene

The film wraps with Kittridge talking with Max and letting her know that she isn’t going to be arrested. They really wanted Jim. Luther and Ethan have a quick chat talking about moving forward. Finally, Ethan is on the plane. The flight attendant asks him the same question that they asked Jim before he got the taped mission at the beginning of the movie: “Excuse me, Mr. Hunt, would you like to watch a movie”. He is going to get his next assignment. In the Bond series, James Bond usually gets a bit of time off after a mission. It looks like Ethan Hunt gets to jump from one mission to the next.

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