‘Mission: Impossible – Fallout’s Big Finale Includes a Reference to Every Previous ‘Mission: Impossible’
The following post contains mild SPOILERS for all the films in the Mission: Impossible franchise. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to not care.
One of the big selling points of the new Mission: Impossible is the crazy helicopter sequence where Tom Cruise flies a helicopter, hangs off a helicopter, falls off a helicopter, and gets into assorted other shenanigans involving helicopters. And to be sure, the sequence is totally spectacular. But speaking as as longtime fan of the entire Mission: Impossible franchise, the coolest part about watching Tom Cruise save the world yet again was the fact that this sequence is like a mashup of all five previous Mission: Impossible movies into one ultimate setpiece.
There’s no indication that Fallout will be the last Mission: Impossible. But if it is, then these winking callbacks to each of the other movies in the franchise were the perfect curtain call sendoff. Here’s each one of the references I spotted. There could be more! Let me know if I missed some other homages to Missions past in the comments section below.
1. Mission: Impossible
The Inspiration: The big finale of the first Mission: Impossible is set in (and mostly on) a high-speed train. IMF traitor Jim Phelps (Jon Voight) tries to escape by jumping from the train to a helicopter. Ethan Hunt (Cruise) gives chase and manages to tether the copter to the train, dragging it into a tunnel.
How It Shows Up in Fallout: A helicopter attached to something it should not be attached to becomes a key part of the final fight between Ethan Hunt and August Walker (Henry Cavill). Just like in Mission: Impossible, a long cable hanging off a helicopter proves to be the bad guy’s undoing. In this case, it gets hooked on the edge of the cliff where Hunt and Walker are fighting. Hunt hangs onto the helicopter’s skid for dear life in both films as well.
2. Mission: Impossible II
The Inspiration: Ethan Hunt enjoys a little r&r by dangling off a gigantic mountain without a rope or net.
How It Shows Up in Fallout: After he finally beats Walker, Ethan has seconds to scale the edge of a cliff before a massive nuclear bomb goes off, killing his team and his wife, and igniting a catastrophic conflict between numerous nations. Luckily, Ethan hasn’t forgotten how to rock climb in the last 18 years.
3. Mission: Impossible III
The Inspiration: He was a classic gentleman bachelor spy in the first two movies, but then Ethan Hunt settles down in Mission: Impossible III. And the film’s bad guy (played by the late Philip Seymour Hoffman) kidnaps Ethan’s wife Julia (Michelle Monaghan) and uses her to blackmail Ethan into retrieving an all-important MacGuffin.
How It Shows Up in Fallout: Mission III ends with Julia shifting from damsel in distress to proactive hero, as she protects Ethan’s prone body after he shocks himself in order to deactivate an explosive charge that’s been planted inside his head. (These movies are hilarious.) Julia serves an almost identical role in Fallout. She is in the immediate blast radius of Solomon Lane’s bombs, but Julia also takes a hand in saving the day, by helping Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) disarm one of the weapons.
4. Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol
The Inspiration: In Ghost Protocol, Ethan Hunt winds up on the trail of Kurt Hendricks (the late Michael Nyqvist), a nuclear extremist who wants to start a war between the United States and Russia. Hendricks manages to launch a nuclear weapon at San Francisco; Ethan and the IMF have to send it the abort code before it arrives at its target.
How It Shows Up in Fallout: Once again, Ethan and the IMF are racing against the clock to stop a nuclear catastrophe instigated by a madman looking to start a war between countries.
5. Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation
The Inspiration: Syndicate leader Solomon Lane manages to kidnap Ethan Hunt’s sidekick Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) and strap a bomb to his chest. As a timer on the bomb ticks down to zero, Lane demands Ethan Hunt hand over some all-important information or he will kill Benji, Ethan, and their ally Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson).
How It Shows Up in Fallout: Acolytes leader Solomon Lane manages to kidnap Ilsa Faust and tie her up. Then he gets the jump on Benji and is very close to killing him (again). Meanwhile, Ethan manages to stop yet another Lane bomb as the timer is milliseconds away from reaching zero and blowing him and a whole bunch of other people to kingdom come.
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