- Banned In China: The film gave the government some cause for concern, as it depicts the Chinese police as incompetent and shows poor living conditions in Chinese villages. There is also one scene where graffiti advertising a document forgery service (which is apparently a big business in China) can be glimpsed. Interestingly, it is re-included in the Warner Home Video DVD9 release.
- Breakthrough Hit: For J. J. Abrams as director.
- Creative Differences: Joe Carnahan worked on the film for a total of fifteen months before quitting over creative differences with the studio bosses. He even filmed the moment when he quit, as he figured that it signified the end of his Hollywood career. That was not to be the case, however. He came back the following year with Smokin' Aces.
- Missing Trailer Scene: Ethan yelling "You will never get what you want!" and Davian responding, "You don't think I'll do it?!" was not in the actual movie. While Davian does say the latter line, the former was never said by Ethan.
- No Stunt Double: Tom Cruise did the vast majority of his own stunts in this film. Most of them were done without major injury. However, he cracked a couple of ribs once when he turned his upper torso too quickly.
- Recycled Script: The plot is similar to the first film: Ethan is set up by a mole in IMF who isn't revealed until near the end, and who tries to frame the boss of the organization who spends time as an Anti-Villain trying to hunt down Hunt, with the audience left unclear if its because the boss really thinks Hunt is a traitor or because the boss is the traitor. In both their actions force Ethan to go rogue and steal the MacGuffin that the bad guys are after for them, and in both The Mole is in league with an arms dealer. Each movie sees Hunt's family being dragged into the plot to get at him, sees a fairly traditional IMF plot go off without a hitch only for the team to be ambushed after the fact, and features a reference ot Ethan evading airport security despite IMF putting "a guy at the airport".
- Star-Derailing Role: While by no means a failure, the film grossed way below expectations and temporarily derailed Tom Cruise's career, mostly through antics described on The Other Wiki which combined with the underperformance gave Paramount the perfect pretense to fire him. Then Paramount changed their minds and he ultimately made a Career Resurrection with a sequel five years later, Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol.
- Throw It In!: One of the best shots of the third film came accidentally; when Julia shoots Musgrave and he crumples to the ground dead, the briefcase containing the Rabbit's Foot was simply going to fall and open. However, the canister rolled perfectly towards the camera as it panned down and stopped with the biohazard label facing forward in dramatic fashion.
- What Could Have Been:
- David Fincher and then Joe Carnahan were attached as directors during the film's development phase, with Lara Croft: Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life writer Dean Georgaris hired to provide the script. However, a change in management at Paramount saw Georgaris fired, with Carnahan walking shortly thereafter. Cruise then hired J. J. Abrams to provide a new script, and was so impressed with his work that he allowed him to direct the film as well.
- Fincher's version dealt with black market trade of body parts in Africa.
- Scarlett Johansson was originally cast as Lindsey Farris, but pulled out of the project. Jessica Alba, Elisha Cuthbert, Katie Holmes and Lindsay Lohan were also considered.
- Kenneth Branagh was cast as Owen Davian, but because of shooting-delays he had to drop out to begin work on As You Like It.
- Carrie-Anne Moss was offered a role after Tom Cruise was impressed with her work in Suspect Zero, which Cruise produced. When Joe Carnahan left the project, and J. J. Abrams took the reins, her character was dropped from the film entirely.
- Rachel McAdams turned down the role of Julia.
- Ricky Gervais was originally cast as Benji Dunn, but dropped out due to scheduling conflicts.
- In the original script of the opening scene, Brownway was supposed to do the "counting" but Abrams realized it would be much more dramatic if it was done by Owen Davien instead.
- TPTB wanted to bring back Thandie Newton as Nyah Nordoff Hall, but she opted to concentrate on spending time with her family. Her role in the story was later changed to a new character named Leah Quint (played by Carrie-Anne Moss) but when J.J. Abrams took over directing the project, the character was totally scrapped from the story.
- English Screenwriter Ben Trebilcook penned previous drafts, and had Ang Lee in talks to direct. One story involved the destruction of various Wonders of the World, which was set as a prequel to the first movie, and brought back Emilio Estevez. The script contained elements deemed too sensitive, as they drew close parallels to the 9/11 attacks. Another draft featured the trafficking of human organs, and was re-written by Frank Darabont.
- Abrams offered Martin Landau a cameo role, but he declined, saying he was finished with the franchise.
Trivia / Mission: Impossible III