Mission: Impossible

Question: Did Ethan actually know it was a mole hunt to trap Jim, or was he oblivious until he worked it out at the train station?

Answer: Ethan never thought it was a mole hunt to trap Jim. He found out from Kittridge at the restaurant that it was a mole hunt, but Kittridge believes that Ethan is the mole (the money his parents mysteriously receive). At the station Ethan realises that Jim must be the mole since it is too convenient both he and his wife survived. However, the hunt to catch the mole was never directed at Jim - Kittridge never suspected him until at the end when he sees Jim alive.


Actually had suspicions before Jim showed up. Ethan found the Bible that was stamped from the Drake Hotel. Where Jim had literally just come back from before the mission. It made no sense otherwise why that would be in Jim's possession.

Question: How does seeing Phelps on the train on his watch via Ethan's glasses camera make Kittridge reach the conclusion that Phelps is the mole and Job? He thought Ethan was the mole the whole time, and Ethan didn't really help his case by telling Kittridge on the phone at Liverpool Street station about how arresting his mother and his uncle was a huge mistake, when Ethan has been trying to clear his name the whole time.

Answer: Kittridge may still have suspected Ethan, but the point of the glasses and watch was to show him that Phelps was still alive, throwing the whole case open again. Ethan would have been cleared in the eventual investigation.

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Question: At the end of the movie, why does Ethan appear so shocked when the flight attendant asks if he wants to watch a movie? I understand that this is probably another mission, but why does he react the way he does?

Answer: In addendum, only the leader of the group receives communication in this method. He's baffled because he's never been approached in this fashion, hence his utter confusion. Naturally, he catches on quickly.

Answer: Because he's resigned from the IMF. As such, he's more than a little surprised to be approached with another mission.

Tailkinker Premium member

Question: Why did Claire return to Ethan? Jim must have sent her but why? Ethan had been framed, why send Claire to potentially expose herself to IMF if found? Is it because: Max receives mail from Ethan, immediately contacts Job to say "What the hell man someone claims you sold me junk!" Now Job/Jim knows he didn't deliver the actual list so he already plans to have Ethan steal the real one for him. Or is that too far fetched?

Answer: Jim has not been paid (at least in full) yet. This is revealed in the conversation Ethan has with Max in the car. Payment was conditional on the disk passing all her safety checks, which she had not done yet (she had not even looked at it yet). There is no way Jim knew the NOC list was junk at this point in time. However, since Jim has not been paid yet for the NOC list, he might have been trying to play it safe, and have Claire just keep tabs. If things don't go as planned, he might have left Claire as she was expendable to him. Also it is unlikely Max contacted Jim (Job) to ask about the email from Ethan (pretending to be Job). Max at this point believes the two are the same person. She simply invites Job to come in and discuss further.

Answer: Sending Claire back to Ethan was a daring ploy to get on the inside of Ethan's confidence. It made no sense and was the least likely thing Claire would do if she was part of Jim's plan. Ethan could have killed her, but the ploy worked and Ethan was confused enough to let her live.

Charles Austin Miller

But why? Jim sells the list to Max and rides off into the sunset with Claire, or so he intends to. What does he gain from having someone on the inside initially? Ethan is screwed, Jim doesn't need to get all the juicy details of how he goes down. Later on it's beneficial for him to have Claire in place there, but initially it makes no sense. Before Ethan formulates any plan and before Max finds out the list is bad.

Jim knew the first NOC list was bad but used the failed raid as an opportunity to kill off a number of IMF agents who might otherwise thwart his plans. Jim still needed Ethan to procure the real NOC list, but this time using a reduced team that contained 2 moles (Claire and Franz). Jim knew that Ethan was the most capable agent, but wanted him under close scrutiny by Claire and Franz.

Charles Austin Miller

He knew it was bad? Then why did he give it to Max anyway? If Ethan hadn't warned her she might have been caught by Kittrdige. Are you saying Jim foresaw everything, I mean everything that Ethan would do? He went through with the embassy raid knowing it was a mole hunt in advance, knowing Ethan would later get the real one for him? What if Ethan had gone with Kittridge in the restaurant? I mean it's unlikely, but this whole scenario sees Jim leaving sooo much to chance. I find it more plausible that he did think he was getting the list in Prague and then adapted to the situation to use Ethan to get the real one. I mean if he really knew the list wasn't in Praque he could have saved himself the trouble and just hire a couple of disavowed agents to do the Langley job himself, just like Ethan did. He had Claire, Krieger and Luther. Yeah no Ethan, but I mean I'm sure he could have found someone else who is capable.

Question: How does discovering the Bible stamped with "The Drake Hotel" tip Ethan Hunt off that Jim Phelps is Job? And what alerts Ethan of Krieger's complicity, since he's the one who recruits Krieger to help him steal the NOC list?

Answer: Phelps told them earlier that he stayed in the Drake Hotel, so Ethan made the link that way - there's no reason for Phelps to have brought the bible with him unless he needed one, in this case for the biblical references required for the Job communications. He tumbles to Krieger's involvement because the knife used to kill Sarah during the blown mission was the same precise type as the one Krieger uses - which Ethan saw during the CIA infiltration when Krieger threatened to kill the security guard.

Tailkinker Premium member

The problem is, Max specifically said that Job didn't make Bible references. So why did Jim have a Bible or ever take it from the Drake Hotel in the first place?

Question: This confuses me, so can someone please help? Kittridge thinks that Ethan is the mole because he was the only one left alive from the IM mission in Prague, but if Ethan really was the mole, he wouldn't have called Kittridge and told him that his team was dead; he would have done what the REAL mole did (go into hiding etc), so wouldn't Kittridge have realised early on that Ethan wasn't actually the mole, and that he had been set up?

Answer: You have to look at it from Kittridge's point of view, you know there's a mole, but you don't know who it is so you send them on a mission, where you can expose the mole - the team ends up dead apart from Ethan. The natural conclusion and all the evidence is that you've found the mole.

Plus Job put 120 grand in Ethan's parents account, according to Kittridge.

Answer: Think as a mole would think-you don't want to look like a mole, so you play innocent: that is the logic Kittridge uses to analyze Ethan.

Answer: Also if Ethan was the mole he wouldn't have known that Kittredge was mole hunting so he would have gone about it as any other mission if his team was killed.

Question: Was Kreiger going to kill Ethan Hunt above the vault immediately after grabbing the disk from Ethan's mouth? Earlier when Ethan says, "Zero body count," Kreiger responds "We'll see," insinuating maybe he's still planning to kill somebody. As soon as Ethan's to the top, Kreiger grabs the disk, a quick, "Merci" (as if saying thanks, now goodbye), and the knife is already out, but luckily dropped. They are both so freaked out at such a near miss, Ethan doesn't even notice Kreiger was going to kill him. Did this cross anybody else's mind? Why else was the knife out to be dropped?

Answer: Krieger presumably used his knife to kill the rat in the vent. It's unlikely he would have tried to kill Ethan above the vault, as there would have been a noisy struggle which would set off the intrusion countermeasures. Luther would have also seen it happen on Ethan's head-mounted camera.

Sierra1 Premium member

Also, Krieger didn't know how to communicate with Max.

Answer: I don't think he intended to kill him. If so, why would Ethan continue to work with a guy who literally just tried to murder him? But I also have no idea why Krieger had the knife out.

Answer: I disagree with the other answers. I watched it in slow motion and thought he was going for the kill. There would be minimal struggle since Ethan isn't in a fighting position and Krieger was inches from his throat with the knife before he dropped it. He wouldn't care if there's a lock down because he would be out by the time they notice Ethan's body above. I guess blood spilling would give it away, but he'd still be out and under cover before anything can be done. He doesn't have to know who Max is or how to contact her he's working with Claire and Phelps. Luther wouldn't care too much because he just met them. At most all they have to say is that there was an accident and Ethan didn't make it. Max wouldn't care because she just wants the real list. If Ethan dies early the bad guys win and IMF will think hey he was the mole and got double crossed. There is 0 reason for Krieger to not kill him at that moment. He has the disc and that's all he needs.

Job as Jim lost confidence of Max. The deal was with Ethan. Ethan had to survive.

Question: Is there any significance to why Ethan keeps using the word 'toast' on his sound equipment at the CIA HQ?

Answer: He's testing the microphone sensitivity. "Toast", like the more common word "test", has both percussive (the hard consonant "T") and sibilant (the hissing "S") sounds.

Also, they are "toast" if they speak too loudly.

Answer: To attempt to provoke Ethan to come out of hiding.

Tailkinker Premium member

Question: OK I have a few questions about this. (1) Who blew up the car with Hannah? Was it Jim or Clare? (2) Ethan taunts Krieger because he has the real NOC list, but was it also because Ethan knew he was a traitor and wanted him to walk out? (3) At the end when Ethan is disguised as Phelps, he is wearing the same trenchcoat as the real Phelps (who then shows up). Is this because he knew Jim was onboard, or simply cause he knew how his old boss loved to dress? (4) And lastly after Clare is killed, Hunt acts devastated and goes after Jim in anger. Given that she was a traitor who was always on Jim's side (and might even have killed Hannah), why would Hunt feel this way at all?

Gavin Jackson

Chosen answer: 1) Jim most likely did it when he emerged from the water (as seen in the flashbacks/Ethan's theory, but it's hard to be 100% certain). 2) Ethan was just fooling Krieger. He didn't know he was a traitor yet. 3) Ethan likely knew exactly what Jim was wearing, as he planned the whole thing all along. 4) He's upset because Jim just murdered his wife to escape, someone who until very recently Ethan still considered his friend. You can't just turn loyalty off like that.


Answer: Claire killed Hannah. Ethan didn't want to believe it. Jim had no way of knowing when Hannah was in the car.

Question: Why does Jim show himself to Ethan in London? This makes no sense, especially because Clair (who is secretly working with Jim), can keep Jim apprised as to what Ethan is up to anyway.


Chosen answer: I suspect that Jim wanted to make absolutely sure that Ethan thought Kitteridge was the IMF mole who had betrayed them - the only way to do that was to tell Ethan that Kitteridge had shot him on the bridge.

Sierra1 Premium member

Question: How did Ethan figure out that Krieger is Phelps' accomplice? The knife couldn't have been it, because there's probably thousands of knives of that model.


Chosen answer: It was the knife, combined with the fact that it was Clare who introduced Krieger to Ethan.

Question: During the beginning of the film, why does Jim fake his death? Was it to frame Ethan?

Answer: Jim fakes his death so that the IMF won't come after him. Jim's aim is to give the impression of a blown mission, but to ultimately end up with the NOC list himself - something that he succeeds in doing. He's selling this to Max for a LOT of money, enough to set himself up for life, but he needs the IMF to think that he died in the blown mission. He leaves Ethan alive so that Ethan can tell the IMF that he 'saw' Jim die, so that they won't come looking for him. He frames Ethan so that Ethan won't come looking for answers.

Tailkinker Premium member

Surely, they would need a body to confirm his death. Such an organisation would not trust any secondary source information.

Answer: In addendum, Jim actually had no clue that Ethan would not follow orders and abort mission, as planned. The girl Ethan was with had to die in the new, unplanned manner, because she followed the target. Seeing the other operative, she was caught off-guard, and he knifed her to death.

Question: I've always wondered, but what is the scene about at the beginning of the film before the titles? Is it just there to showcase the team or is there another reason?

Heather Benton Premium member

Chosen answer: It's an excuse to show off the team, as well as the reason they are already in Eastern Europe.


Chosen answer: He doesn't trust her. He knows Ethan is in love with Claire, and suspects she is in love with him. Claire does not deny this, and begs him not to kill Ethan, which confirms his suspicion.

Sierra1 Premium member

Answer: Perhaps he planned to kill her all along. He was planning to escape via the helicopter but how was she to escape?

Question: When Ethan is tied to a chair and Max is attempting to view the first tainted NOC list, there's a device the shows rising numbers which we are to assume is a bad thing. "26, 27. So far so good." What do these numbers signify? How are these numbers tipping off the CIA? (00:46:00)

Answer: The device was a radio scanner, the numbers represented the strength of the signal which the disk was transmitting to alert the CIA to its location.

Sierra1 Premium member

Question: About Luther. Does Ethan tell him the whole truth between Langley and London? How else to explain their conversation about "not letting the list get out in the open"? As far as Luther knows they just stole the NOC List and are about to sell it to an arms dealer. He doesn't know Ethan doesn't intend to actually let Max have it. Unless Ethan let him in on the whole thing. In that case does he also know he won't get paid?

Answer: He does tell Luther, that's why he jams the transmission on the train. By this point the transaction was made. Luther doesn't want any of the agents to get killed because the list was leaked.

So he tells him the whole story off camera? That he only stole it to prove his innocence, etc.

Because Luther is a disavowed agent, but has a conscience and remains loyal to his country. When he realises via camera he has helped steal the NOC list, and says "mother of god", he understands the weight of the information. It sets up Luther's arc from disavowed criminal to reformed criminal working with the government on impossible missions to both of their benefit.

Question: Why do they steal the actual NOC list instead of just giving Max another fake one to make sure the names didn't get out?

Answer: They need to prove to her that they have access to the genuine list. A list of names that can easily be proven fake is of no value to her, and would not entice her to help them. Ethan needs her in order to identify Job, so he can determine why the mission in Prague went wrong.

Cubs Fan

Answer: Presumably, both halves of the NOC list will interact with and match with each other perfectly in a way that won't work otherwise should one half be a fake. Think of it as two puzzle pieces, and if the computer tried to match up the wrong puzzle piece with the authentic first half of the NOC list, it would notify the user.

Question: I have a question about the CIA mission. The team are breaking into CIA HQ to get the NOC list, because Luther can't hack into the computer the list is held on, so Ethan has to physically be in the same room as the computer to get it. But if Luther is able to hack into the CIA's own security system to set off a fake fire alert in one of the areas, then why can't he hack the NOC list computer? It can't be that much harder considering how skilled he is.

Answer: It's not that it's difficult security, it's that there is no outside line connected to that computer. It's impossible to access from anywhere except that room because it's the only room that it has a connection to.

Greg Dwyer

Answer: In the movie they mention it's a "stand alone" computer. Meaning that it has no network access (no internet/intranet/...) and can't be accessed from an other location. Which makes sense for a computer storing such sensitive information. The only way to get the data is to get on that computer physically inside the vault.

Question: How was Ethan successful in getting touch with Luther Stickell? Was it the from list Ethan was checking of the disavowed agents?

Shouvik Roy

Chosen answer: Yes, Ethan accesses the disavowed category of the IMF personnel database to recruit Stickell and Krieger. Even if their locations were not there, Ethan is shown to be very resourceful and could have worked out how to find or contact them.

Sierra1 Premium member

Factual error: The train is a French TGV, these do not operate in the UK (not to date anyway) The Channel Tunnel passenger train is the Eurostar.

More mistakes in Mission: Impossible

Eugene Kittridge: Hello, Max.
Max: My lawyers are going to have a field day with this. Entrapment, jurisdictional conflict.
Eugene Kittridge: Well, maybe we'll just leave the courts out of this one.
Max: I'm sure we can find something I have that you need.

More quotes from Mission: Impossible

Trivia: Director Brian De Palma reportedly had creative difficulties with Tom Cruise, who was also a producer and thus had final say in the decisions made during production. While this has been disputed, many have noted the fact that De Palma did very little press for the film (including "politely excusing" himself from scheduled media interviews at the last moment) and never took up an offer to record an audio commentary for the film as evidence.

More trivia for Mission: Impossible

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