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Headscratchers: Mission: Impossible

Television Series

  • According to her dossier, Cinnamon was a world-famous model. Why didn't anyone ever recognize her?
    • Cinnamon went on her missions without the hours of professional makeup and hairstyling, designer wardrobe, and expert lighting that are used for her cover shoots.
  • How much of the IMF's budget is devoted to setting up all those dead drops for the self-destructing briefing tapes?
    • That's probably a very large part of their budget since keeping the IMF secret is probably their top priority. They certainly don't care about the safety of their agents, considering the disavowal policy. The IMF is the agency that the government uses when it needs something done that can only be done illegally. If anyone ever penetrated the system of self-destructing briefings, the careers of important people would be ruined.

Mission: Impossible 1

  • In the Black Vault, why don't they set it up to just turn off the computer whenever the technician is out of the room? Or don't even turn it off entirely; just put it to sleep. Make it so that the mouse and keyboard are unresponsive until the guy opens the door and all the lights change and so forth. It would be a heckuva lot easier to set up than all the other sensors and such, and it would've thwarted Ethan.
    • Having that in addition to all the other security might have been a serious problem for Ethan, but they probably believed that any more protection than they had would be overkill. Just turning the computer off without having any sensors in the room would mean that Ethan could be in there doing practically anything at all and you'd have no way of knowing about it, and whatever mechanism you use to make the computer unresponsive could surely be bypassed with enough effort. If you disable the mouse and keyboard he could bring his own mouse and keyboard. If you cut off all power to the room he could bring a portable power supply. If you disconnect something inside the computer, he could reconnect it. He could even disassemble the entire computer and smuggle it out in pieces.
    • Perhaps they tried something like that and the system was faulty, not coming up again when the technician re-entered the vault or not doing so fast enough..
    • Most places that work with classified information have a standing policy that if you leave your desk, you have to lock the computer so that nobody else can access the files on your account without entering your password. The Black Vault should have had such a policy, though the fact that the operator was seriously ill at the time he left the vault may have caused him to forget.
    • Actually Ethan had to enter his password after the tech left in order to access the computer, so it did lock the system when he left.
  • When Ethan first sees Phelps alive, he doesn't suspect that he was the mole. But when Phelps distinctly accused Kittridge of being the mole, Ethan did start putting together that he was the mole. Why?
    • Because Kittridge being the mole didn't fit the facts as Ethan knew them, and Phelp's overplayed his hand in trying to pin it on Kittridge. Ethan had an epiphany that it must have been Phelps and Claire working together, though because of his feelings for Claire he then decides it might have been just Phelps. If you watch Phelps during Ethan's explanation of how the team was killed you can see him wondering if Ethan is buying it.
      • What "facts" did Ethan know that it didn't fit exactly?
      • Hard facts would be difficult, but I imagine that for one thing it just didn't make sense... Kittridge isn't really a direct action field agent sort of guy, so if he was the mole he would likely frame another administrator, not a team of field agents. Too his position meant he could have done a much more competent frameup job than was being done, and would be focused on killing Ethan rather than bringing him in... if Ethan's brought in, the story risks unraveling as he's questioned. But it was probably more of an intuition... Ethan realized that there was no one besides Kittridge that he would have loved the mole to be at that moment. The guy's hunting him, persecuting him, fucking with his family... it would be just too perfect if he was also the bad guy that Ethan could save the day by killing. Phelps was telling Ethan exactly what he wanted to hear... which Ethan knew was bullshit, at that point, because nothing he wanted to happen was happening at that point.
    • It is implied/said that Ethan did suspect Jim when he saw him (On the train, Ethan says "before London, but after you took the Bible from the Drake hotel in Chicago", when Jim asks when Ethan figured it out.), but he presumably played along throughout the scene. It may be that Ethan's imaginings of Jim being the killer were shown where they were for audience convenience, that Ethan knew in general, but only worked out the details in the scene, or that Ethan had worked out some details before, but only nailed them down during that scene.
  • When they were in the Black Vault, why didn't Ethan just knock out the technician? The door would probably have muffled the sound of him falling and he would have had time to get everything.
    • Because they're trying to steal the NOC list without leaving a trace that they were even there and what they were after (the IMF are covert agents, after all). It's such sensitive material that Ethan doesn't let Luther and Kreiger know what they're stealing until he's already stealing it. There's also another person stationed right outside the room, and descending from above is not exactly prime position to get a clear blow; that's too much risk considering any alert to their presence puts the entire vault into lockdown and presumably inescapable. They're trained to be ghosts, as Kittridge put it earlier, so it would make sense that they would try to take the list without confrontation or detection (aside from the security guard they had to incapacitate when their cover was blown). It would also be pointless to knock out Donloe before he got to the vault and try to double as him with a mask, because part of the entry system was a retinal scan, which they couldn't fake with their limited resources.
  • Why doesn't the Vault have a motion sensor? One that would turn on when Donloe left the room (like the floor sensor?)
    • This is addressed on the YMMV page. The room was already ridiculously secure, at some point even the IMF has to say "Enough." And even if it had a motion sensor, Ethan and crew would have just found some way around that too, since that was the point of the scene. Saying "Why didn't the room have-" would just lead to an ever-escalating game of cat and mouse that would take up three hours to play out and still not satisfy everyone who would think "Well why didn't it have this one extra thing that would have caught them?" It's sort of the equivalent of hearing that the dark matter tanker had its 7000 hulls torn through and asking why they didn't build it with 7001.
      • Not really. Motion sensors are pretty standard stuff that you can find at a local library. Questioning why the biggest intelligence agency in the world to not invest in a commonplace security measure isn't constantly demanding they think up a better one than they currently have, it's common sense.
      • It just seems like it would have been much better protection than say, the heat sensor, which was pretty much useless as two people being in the room at the same time didn't trigger it, or the sound sensor, which was defeated just by Ethan being quiet. On the other hand, this is the government we're talking about...
      • The security system is fairly sensitive as is. I imagine they tried putting in a motion sensor system and found a lot of false alarms.
  • Why doesn't Phelps shoot Ethan right after he's disabled him in the baggage car?
    • Because he's a villain in an action movie and if he killed the hero the movie would be over in a sucky way.
    • Because he only managed to smuggle two bullets onto the train, and he felt more betrayed by his wife than his protege, so he shot her first.
  • Does any else think it's morally dubious for Ethan to risk the lives of every American spy in the world just to clear his name and improbable that the IMF would rehire him after this stunt? (Max very nearly manages to upload the file.) Giving a NOC List to an arms dealer is itself enough of a reason to be disavowed even if you're planning on trying to stop them from copying it.
    • Morally dubious stunts are the IMF's entire reason for existence. If a job can be done within the bounds of morality and the law then the US government has officially recognized agencies that can take care of it. You can rarely count the number of crimes the IMF commits on the fingers of one hand in any episode of the television series, and those crimes go all the way up to murder in more than a few episodes. Doing bad stuff doesn't get you disavowed; you only get disavowed if you get caught.
      • Ethan had just gotten the actual list of all of their Eastern European agents out in the open after breaking into his own workplace with the help of two criminals and ruined the career of a competent employee. Really there was nothing the mole could have done that would be remotely as damaging as what nearly happened, especially since Ethan could have just made a fake. In reality he'd be incredibly lucky for them to decide not to risk the publicity of a trial, let alone getting his job back. But, obviously there'd be no sequel if that was mentioned so it was quietly ignored.

Mission: Impossible 2

  • The fact that a Welshman seems to be in charge of the American IMF is puzzling!
    • In the series they employ French, Australian, Scottish and English agents, likely amongst others- its not that surprising.
  • One thing that's not altogether clear is why McCloy goes along with Ambrose's plan. Grabbing the Belleraphon from Nakovitch is one thing given that he ran off with it, but having no problem breaking into his building and stealing the Chimera virus in order to sell it back to him? Why the hell would he go along with that? Did his company not bother telling him that armed men attacked his building, killed scores of guards and stole a WMD?
    • Whether McCloy was upset that Ambrose broke in and stole the virus doesn't matter once it was done. Ambrose has both the virus and the cure, neither of which McCloy wants being sold to anyone else.
      • Except that he offered Ambrose 37 million before that.
    • About the only possible explanation is that McCloy thought that Ambrose stole both of them from Nakovitch and not just Belleraphon, which Ambrose indeed had thought he had done at the start of the film. This doesn't explain why McCloy doesn't seem interested in or aware that someone stole another sample of the virus and slaughtered countless guards in the process, but evidently if he is concerned and aware he doesn't connect the dots and realize that Ambrose never had the virus in the first place and, thus, was the culprit of the attack on his company.
      • That does seem to pretty much be what happens. Before the attack, Ambrose seemed to just be showing that he had Nekhorivich's work, which Mc Cloy would want to pay money to get back. Afterwards, Mc Cloy may well figure out that Ambrose had broken into the building, but since Ambrose has control of all materials, knowing this information would not be all that useful.
      • Could be that he is worried what will happen to him should he say no, I mean Ambrose is obviously quite crazy and dangerous.

Mission: Impossible 3

  • Why is Ethan Hunt's wife allowed in the middle of IMF's headquarters at the end of the film? The organization is so secret, that they operate from the basement of a front business! That's a huge security risk they are taking for what is essentially a feelgood gesture. Imagine a real-world parallel: the wife of a high-ranking Pentagon official is kidnapped in order to get at her husband, and then she is rescued. I am quite certain the people at Pentagon wouldn't go, "Sorry we caused you so much trouble! To make up for it, come mingle with your husband's co-workers in a restricted area!"
    • She would need to be debriefed, and the parallel is not the same because the existence of Pentagon officials is not a state secret; the existence of the Impossible Mission Force is. Plus, in the process of the "rescue" she ends up saving her husbands life, shoots a traitor to the agency dead, and overhears sensitive information about a recently stolen weapon of mass destruction. She is knee-deep in it and merely learning about IMF gives her priviledges.
  • Why does Davian torture Ethan, asking him where the Rabbit's Foot is? Ethan had it when he was drugged in a limo, and Davian's henchman should find and give it to his boss.
    • As explained by the mole after the interrogation, Davian did the ruse to make absolutely sure Ethan did not switch it out for a fake. Ethan claiming he gave Davian the real one through the count of ten thinking his wife was at gunpoint verified it for Davian.

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol

  • It's never explained how Cobalt hacked into IMF's communications during the previous mission or even knew that they would be there, nor why he has access to the same Latex Perfection that they do. A Mole would be suspected, and in fact all three previous films featured one in one way or another, but there isn't one. Given his Oddly Small Organization and that his official position in the Russian government was simply a scientific advisor, and how extreme his theories were, its hard to believe he's that well connected that he even knows who the IMF are, let alone how to play them like a fiddle and manipulate their every move.
    • Maybe he's just that smart.
    • Your primary mistake is in thinking that the IMF is the only one with access to advanced technology. A major problem in real-world espionage is that technology is almost never proprietary... some rogue agent would almost certainly have slipped somebody one of their maskmaking machines at some point in return for a hundred million dollars or somesuch, and after it was reverse engineered ever rich terrorist with the right connections could have one. As for hacking into the communications, he presumably did it the same way Ethan does it whenever he has to go rogue: he found a hacker who was better than IMF's hackers, because there's always somebody better.
  • Who shot up the car with Ethan and Brandt, and why? Sidorov eventually runs up and tells the shooters to stop. Were those guy cops?
    • Could've been Spetsnaz or something.
    • Presumably the police were simply aware that Ethan, an escaped man thought responsible for one of the most devastating terrorist attacks in Russian history, was in the car. Hence, they made the mistake of simply choosing to try to eliminate him instead of attempting a capture. As much as it paints the Russian police in a dim light, this scene makes more sense when you remember that they had no idea the Secretary was in the car and not just more dangerous American terrorists.
    • And it was just after the Kremlin had been bombed. The Russian police are understandably not acting very rationally in trying to catch or kill the guy they think bombed the Kremlin.
  • In Ghost Protocol, how was the cryptographer supposed to verify the launch codes at a glance? He obviously didn't know them already, and giving the codes a recognizable pattern kind of defeats the point of a password.
    • There aren't many people who can tease out those patterns in their head.
    • It's simple for codes to be practically impossible to guess but easy to verify. For example, if the launch code was a prime factorization of some number and you knew that number, then verifying the code would be nothing more than a multiplication, but as long as the number is large enough, you could never find the code just by knowing the number.
      • This. The whole point is that he was the one who designed the cypher. He doesn't have to know the codes himself to be able to look at them and go "Yeah, that's my cypher they're using."
  • What was the point of Hendricks masquerading as his own Dragon for the Dubai deal? There didn't seem to be any reason why the real henchman couldn't have done it instead, and after all that's what henchmen are for. When his face was revealed to be an I.M.F.-style latex mask it seemed they were about to let loose a major plot twist, but it turns out it was just the Big Bad being eccentric.
    • While withing the context of the movie, it doesn't make much sense (not that eccentricities are unusual for Hendricks), but it seemed like a pretty clear attempt to show the audience, and Ethan, how devastatingly wrong the plan had gone without confusing all the different villains.
    • In the movie context, it shows (again) that this villain is a step ahead of the IMF. Remember, the plan was deliberately not to capture the henchman so he would lead them to the Big Bad. The villain short-circuits that plan by showing up himself, in disguise.
    • Hendricks may have been attempting to protect his identity - remember that the reason Ethan and Benji infiltrated the Kremlin in the first place was to discover Cobalt's identity.
  • So who told the Russians in Dubai? Ethan?
    • Bogdan. That is, I don't think Bogdan told them, but they knew he and Ethan broke out of prison together, and were presumably keeping tabs on him in case he could lead them to Ethan.
  • Wouldn't NORAD's radar detect an SRBM incoming towards San Francisco?
    • I was secretly hoping for that too. Perhaps NORAD had just installed a new detection system and when they saw a single nuclear missile heading towards the US they assumed it was an error, since a preemptive nuclear strike would be all-out. They ignored it rather than do a retaliatory launch. It's happened before.
    • Maybe NORAD did react, but it was all off-screen.
  • When the team realized the Russian cryptographer/scientist/nuclear codes guy was in Dubai, why not just let the meeting take place, then follow Winstrom and Moreau and capture them later, rather than take the risks of being recognized by following the original plan?
    • Because they might lose them. The fact that they had to let the cryptographer see the actual codes only makes them need to caputre them sooner- you are, after all, talking about people who are trying to destroy the entire world, and to stop them you've just let them attain the means to do it. Following them and capturing them later is extremely risky because you might lose them and, if that happens, everyone might pay the price.
      • By that point they have the security cameras controlled in the hotel, making following much easier. (And any other tricks that the targets could have used would also be usable in the plan they did do in the movie.)
  • Is this movie just assuming there are absolutely no missile defense systems in the United States? And why even attack the United States with ONE nuke? If your goal is nuclear holocaust, wouldn't it make more sense to deploy multiple missiles to targets that don't have any defense systems or organized teams set out to foil you?
    • The goal with the first nuclear weapon was to get the U.S. and Russia to start fighting each other, Which presumably wouldn't take much. (The missile did in fact come from a Submarine, and with the kremlin bombing, Russia would be the obvious attacker.) (Of course, I have no experience with how nuclear policy works, so it may be the the one stray missile wouldn't have lead to anyhing, but the movie explanatiobn makes sense even with working missile defenses and one weapon.)
  • A magnet strong enough to carry the weight of a full grown man! Near COMPUTERS! How exactly does that work?
    • Highly-concentrated narrow angled electromagnetic field. Picture it as a wedge of magnetic force, rather than a bloom outward. If it helps any, the guy who owns the place was said to have made his fortune off of stolen military-grade stuff, the computers were probably all hardened because, hell, the guy clearly had money to burn.
  • At the beginning, Benji accidentaly releases all the prisoners in an entire cell block and ends up having to open more to cover Ethan's escape. It is Played for Laughs but these are hardened criminals attacking the guards. They will likely kill them or worse. By the time Ethan and company leave, it looks like the Russian guards are taking control of the situation but it is still a very dangerous and reckless act. What if the criminals took ovr the cell or even the entire prison? What if some of these guys escaped and were set lose on the public? The heroes kinda shrug it off. Does that bother anyone else?
    • There is a reason that the secretary will disavow all knowledge of their actions if they get caught: he can't afford to be associated with the crimes they commit. The IMF kills people. A little prison chaos is hardly an issue if it is necessary to get the job done, by IMF standards.

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