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.