Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to dive back into the covert world of Ethan Hunt and learn all the secret Easter eggs you missed in Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part 1.
It's hard to believe that the first Mission Impossible movie debuted in 1996 or that Mission Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part 1 is the seventh entry in what's become one of the best action movie franchises ever. As the name suggests, this is the first part of a double feature, with its cliffhanger ending setting up Part Two (Learn more about the Mission Impossible 8 release date here).
Tom Cruise is once again performing his own stunts as the slippery Mr Hunt, with returning faces like Rebecca Ferguson, Ving Rhames, and Simon Pegg being joined in the Mission Impossible cast by newcomers including Hayley Atwell and Esai Morales. Before this message self-destructs, here are 10 Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One Easter eggs you might've missed.
It’s not just a high-adrenaline finale atop a train that links Dead Reckoning to Brian De Palma’s Mission: Impossible. The big one is the return of Henry Czerny’s Eugene Kittridge. The former Director of the IMF is now head of the CIA. We’re not sure what side Kittridge is really on, but expect him to play an even bigger part in the sequel.
Vanessa Kirby and Frederick Schmidt reprise their roles as Alanna and Zola Mitsopolis, who are the son and daughter of Vanessa Redgrave’s Max. Things play out similarly to the first movie, but this time, Kittridge is trying to buy the key off Alanna instead of Max trying to obtain the NOC list. Dead Reckoning Part Two is bringing back another of the OGs, with Rolf Saxon reprising his role as CIA analyst William Donloe.
The mysterious Grace
Playing second fiddle to Cruise, Hayley Atwell steals the show as “Grace”. The enigmatic thief is hired by Gabriel (Esai Morales) but ends the movie by making “the choice” and deciding to join the IMF. Even once the credits have rolled, it’s unclear what secrets are hiding in Grace’s past, but there’s a wild theory she’s connected to Ethan.
During the exchange between Grace (disguised as Alanna) and Kittridge, she hands him her passport, but the shot purposefully obscures her real name. Grace shares a striking resemblance with Marie (Mariela Garriga) – who Gabriel killed all those years ago – so what if she’s her daughter? There are 20 years between Cruise and Atwell, so it isn’t too much of a leap to imagine Grace is Ethan’s daughter who’s been pulled into Gabriel’s twisted plan.
One for the big Mission Impossible fans out there, Dead Reckoning Part One, harks back to the cinematic style of Brian De Palma’s original. The franchise has had a lot of directors over the years and is now under the steam of Christopher McQuarrie since 2015’s Rogue Nation. Still, the latest outing honors De Palma’s aesthetic with Dutch angles.
Switching the position of the camera to give a tilted perspective, Dutch angles first appeared as early as Dziga Vertov’s Man with a Movie Camera in 1929 and have since been associated with Alfred Hitchcock. Kenneth Branagh used them in Thor, but for many, they’re synonymous with De Palma’s Mission: Impossible. Dutch angles appear a lot in Dead Reckoning Part One, particularly during the tense negotiation in Venice.
The Angel Gabriel
With the trailers giving us a brilliant misdirect, Esai Morales’ Gabriel isn’t the de facto big bad of Dead Reckoning. Instead, it’s a sentient AI known only as The Entity. Giving us some serious Westworld season 3 vibes, Gabriel serves more as its right-hand man. Given that this was the role of the Angel Gabriel to God, it might give us some idea of where things are heading.
The endgame of The Entity is currently unclear, but if it wanted to annihilate us by now, we’re pretty sure it would’ve. More likely, this sinister Skynet wannabe wants to be worshipped like a god. As its willing servant, will Gabriel help it get there? Taking something as ancient as religion and giving it a 21st century twist is typically on-brand, while Cruise has his own real-life beef with AI and deepfakes.
A tragic goodbye
We’d always guessed someone was going to kick the bucket in Dead Reckoning Part One, but while most would’ve put their money on someone like Ving Rhames’ Luther as a series stalwart, it was Ferguson’s Ilsa Faust who met her maker. Following an opening fakeout where Ilsa was killed in the desert (no one was buying it), she was brutally stabbed by Gabriel during a fight in Venice.
Ilsa’s demise mirrors the ‘death’ of Jon Voight’s Jim Phelps in the first movie. Mission: Impossible’s shocking opening featured most of the IMF team being brutally killed off and Ethan arriving too late to save Jim. It was actually a fakeout, with Phelps being the movie’s big bad. Although we might’ve bought the idea Ilsa has survived if not for that fake desert demise, bringing her back from the dead again might be a twist too far for Dead Reckoning Part Two.
The most obscure Dead Reckoning Easter egg is a deep cut to Leonard Nimoy. The actor is best known for playing Spock on Star Trek: The Original Series, but after it was canceled, he joined the original Mission: Impossible TV series for its fourth season. He was a retired magician known only as “The Great Paris”, and apparently, was an inspiration for Pom Klementieff’s Paris.
Klementieff has confirmed that her character honors The Great Paris and his equally flamboyant wardrobe, although she doubts he would’ve worn anything quite as outlandish as this. Klementieff is confirmed for Part Two, and with Paris just about surviving her brush with death, we guess the reformed assassin will be helping the IMF next time around.
Let’s be honest. There are probably few fans putting John Woo’s Mission: Impossible II at the top of their rewatch list. Still, it’s remembered for the shocking opening of ‘Ethan’ aboard a doomed plane that started a breakneck movie of characters swapping faces. It was more iconically used for the scene when Ethan transformed into Owen Davian (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) in Mission: Impossible III and has continued to be a convenient plot device.
Things aren’t as easy in Dead Reckoning, as a malfunctioning Mrs Doubtfire machine scuppers Ethan’s finale plan and leads to the movie’s big stunt. It’s not quite surgically ripping someone’s visage and grafting it onto your own faceless one, with the Mission: Impossible movies going for the more PG version of Woo’s Face/Off.
The fallout of Fallout
There are also several winks to the beloved Mission: Impossible – Fallout, like a photo of Angela Bassett’s Erik Sloane. Does this mean she’s been killed off between movies as Kittridge has taken her place? The big one is a mention of John Lark. Alanna reminds us that she doesn’t know Ethan’s true identity, previously thinking he was the nuclear terrorist John Lark.
In reality, Lark was the name of Henry Cavill’s mustachioed menace who turned out to be the real big bad of Fallout. Up there with Owen Davian, August Walker/John Lark is one of the franchise’s most infamous foes. Cavill’s character was so well-received there were swirling theories we could return. We’re sorry, but being impaled on a hook is a pretty definitive death to us.
What’s a good Mission: Impossible movie without a few stunts? Dead Reckoning Part One is no different. The trailers already spoiled parts of the climactic train sequence, like Ethan driving a motorcycle off a cliff to try and catch up to it. As well as echoing parts of Naughty Dog’s Uncharted 2, the epic train finale also has elements of Wanted and repeats the fight at the end of the OG Mission: Impossible.
It wasn’t as simple as filming on a backlot like the train finale of Mission: Impossible. Cruise and McQuarrie champion practical effects and confirmed in a behind-the-scenes feature how they built a functioning train that was then wrecked at the end of the shoot. As for the most dangerous element of Dead Reckoning, Cruise says he filmed the bike stunt on the first day, just in case anything happened to him.
There’s one Easter egg that doesn’t need you to watch Dead Reckoning Part One, although we don’t think you’d find it if you haven’t. If you use the Letterboxd app to review the movie, it’ll trigger the following message: “Mission has been compromised. The secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions. This review will self-destruct in five seconds.”
Don’t worry. Your phone won’t be left a smoldering pile of embers. Instead, the message continues, “System Override by Agent: Hunt, Ethan. Self-Destruct Sequence halted.” McQuarrie’s third outing has smashed records to become the best-reviewed of the series. It’s also earning a small fortune at the box office, with positive reviews and a ‘halo’ effect of Top Gun: Maverick helping it win big.
If you loved Ethan’s latest mission, then you’re in luck. We’ve got a load of top-secret articles for you to enjoy. So if you choose to accept it, please enjoy our Mission Impossible 7 ending explained, or perhaps you want to know more about the Mission Impossible cast? If you’re on the fence about seeing the film, we recommend checking out our Mission Impossible 7 review.
Still, if you’re here, it’s likely you’ll know a thing or two about Cruise’s work, so you’ll get a kick out of our guide explaining how to run in the movies. Finally, we have a list of the 101 best movies of all time and a list of all the new movies coming out this year.