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Trivia / Mission: Impossible (1996)

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  • Ability over Appearance: Max was originally a man before Vanessa Redgrave was cast.
  • Actor-Inspired Element: The scene that takes place in a glass-walled restaurant with a big lobster tank in the middle and three huge fish tanks overhead was Tom Cruise's idea. There were 16 tons in all of the tanks and there was a concern that when they detonated, a lot of glass would fly around. Brian De Palma tried the sequence with a stuntman, but it did not look convincing and he asked Cruise to do it, despite the possibility that the actor could have drowned.
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  • All-Star Cast: Unique for an American-driven film at the time, half of the star power beyond Tom Cruise is actually from the other side of the pond; Jean Reno, Kristin Scott Thomas, and Emmanuelle Béart were esteemed, well-known European actors making their American big-budget blockbuster debuts.
  • Deleted Scene: Initially, there was a sophisticated opening sequence that introduced a love triangle between Phelps, his wife and Ethan Hunt that was removed because it took the test audience "out of the genre", according to Brian De Palma.
  • Disowned Adaptation: Fans of the original TV series strongly disliked the first film because it made Jim Phelps the villain. Peter Graves was offered the part of Phelps in the movie, but turned it down in disgust (not to mention how Phelps on screen became similar to Graves' past role as Price from Stalag 17, who was also The Mole and the Big Bad like Phelps in the movie, in which this dubious Actor Allusion displeases Graves). In addition, Martin Landau (Rollin Hand) and Greg Morris (Barney Collier) were also quite critical about the film making Phelps the villain, with Morris actually storming out of the movie theater in anger before the film actually ended.
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  • Fake Nationality: Frenchman Jean Reno as the Swiss Franz Krieger.
  • Hostility on the Set: There were rumours that Tom Cruise and Brian De Palma did not get along and they were fuelled by the director excusing himself at the last moment from scheduled media interviews before the film's theatrical release.
  • Life Imitates Art: Inspired by the film, a helicopter successfully flew through a tunnel in Brazil in 2006.
  • Missing Trailer Scene: A shot of Ethan and Claire kissing passionately is shown in the trailer (and indeed in the brief excerpts from the film at the start of the film itself) but doesn't feature within the movie.
  • Money, Dear Boy: Brian De Palma said that one of the reasons why he agreed to direct the film was because he needed a commercial hit at that time. Amusingly, his last commercial hit was also a TV adaptation, The Untouchables.
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  • No Stunt Double: The filmmakers delivered the film on time and under budget with Tom Cruise doing most of his own stunts.
  • Production Posse: Ving Rhames, who plays Luthor which would be a reoccurring character in a film franchise to follow, had previously worked with director Brian De Palma on Casualties of War as The Neidermeyer Army officer who would rather turn to a blind eye to a gang rape rather than report it that could cause the rapists to possibly retaliate against the stool pigeon who squealed on them.
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  • Release Date Change: Reshoots, location conflicts in Prague, and complications with filming and visual effects made Paramount's proposed December 1995 release date unviable.
  • Uncredited Role: Emilio Estevez is uncredited.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: The movie was obviously intended to be a "Mission Impossible about the new digital era," but many things have become quite dated.
    • Jim masks the smoke from the self-destructing film by lighting up a cigarette, something you can't do on commercial flights anymore.
    • Planes have futuristic movie screens mounted on swivel arms. Attendants distribute cassettes of movies to watch. Jim uses a hardwired remote control to play the movie. Modern screens on planes are embedded into the back of headrests, have either digitally-stored films or streaming services that use the plane's built-in WiFi services, and typically use touch controls or buttons wired into the arm rests.
    • Computer hardware is all of the 90s era, including bulky laptops, floppy disks and CRT screens.
    • Ethan logs into Usenet to do research, something no one uses anymore.
    • The script was written before people had much understanding of basic internet concepts:
      • Ethan connects to the internet by typing "internet access" into a text box.
      • Ethan searches for a "Max" by trying to go to "," which doesn't exist.
      • Knowing that his Max might be associated with the Biblical verse Job 3:16, Ethan sends an email to the address "Max@Job 3:16", is obviously not a viable email address on top of being a blind guess. Rather than send it from an email address of his own, Ethan is able to simply type "Job" into a "Message From:" text box.
      • The Viewer-Friendly Interface as a whole bears little relation to how computers functioned in the 1990s or today.
    • The film was made toward the back end of when you could do a viable story about former secret agents disgruntled about losing their power after the Cold War ended. Witness how just two years later, Ronin is about a bunch of them having moved on to other work.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • According to Martin Landau, in an earlier treatment for the first film the original plan was to bring back the entire original cast of the TV series just to kill them all off in the first act, which was changed instead to wipe out the current team when the original cast members refused to come back. Considering how may fans reacted negatively to the change regarding Phelps in the first movie, one can only imagine how they would have responded had this plot happened.
    • George Clooney was offered the part of Ethan Hunt but he turned down due to work in One Fine Day. Nicolas Cage, Ralph Fiennes, Mel Gibson, John Travolta and Bruce Willis were later considered for the part before Tom Cruise got the role.
    • Michael Douglas, Al Pacino and Robert Redford were considered for Jim Phelps.
    • John McTiernan was originally considered to direct.
    • The role of Claire was originally offered to both Juliette Binoche and Geneviève Bujold (from De Palma's Obsession).
    • Alan Silvestri was originally hired to score the film, and had written roughly twenty-three minutes of music before he was taken off. Bootleg copies of his "Mission: Impossible" score are in circulation.
  • Writing by the Seat of Your Pants: The film went into pre-production without a script that the filmmakers wanted to use. Brian De Palma designed the action sequences but neither David Koepp nor Robert Towne were satisfied with the story that would make these sequences take place. Towne ended up helping organize a beginning, middle and end to hang story details on while De Palma and Koepp worked on the plot. Towne rewrote scenes literally between takes during filming.


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