In Christopher McQuarrie’s Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation, the villainous Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) makes a bold statement about the franchise’s great hero, Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt. Discussing the IMF agent with Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), Lane argues, “Ethan Hunt is a gambler — and one day his luck will run out, and thousands of innocent people will pay the price.” Taken at face value, this may sound like simple antagonist talk, making the argument that the world’s great champion is no better than he is… but that changes when you really start to think about the statement.
While there is no denying that Ethan Hunt possesses some incredible skills (and is ridiculously brave), it’s legitimately surprising how often his work comes down to simple luck. Looking back at the many titles in the Mission: Impossible franchise, there are many moments where Hunt puts lives in the hands of destiny, and it just so happens that most of the time things work out well for him. Now, with Mission: Impossible — Fallout ready to hit theaters soon, we thought it would be an appropriate time to look back at some of those outrageously fatalistic sequences, starting with one of the best ever:
A Knife Falls At The Most Perfect Possible Speed (Mission: Impossible)
Everybody remembers the sight of Ethan Hunt dangling from the ceiling of a secure vault in the CIA’s Langley Headquarters in the first Mission: Impossible, but what most probably don’t remember is how the whole thing almost completely falls apart at the very end. As Hunt is struggling to get back to the ceiling after stealing the famous NOC List, Franz Krieger (Jean Reno) accidentally drops his knife… and for a split second it looks like the heroes are totally screwed. As soon as the blade drops, it will activate both the sound and motion censors, leading to inevitable capture. That’s not the way it goes down, however. Instead, the knife pierces the room’s computer desk just as William Donloe (Rolf Saxon) is entering the room, stopping the alarms from sounding.
It should be pointed out that the knife drop does wind up being a bad thing, as it alerts Donloe to the fact that somebody had been messing around with the computer. That being said, Hunt and his crew are super fortunate that the CIA agent entered the room when he did, because things could have been much, much worse. The bespectacled suit is very slow to piece together exactly what happened while he was puking in the bathroom, and the response to the room’s alarm system would have been immediate and severe in contrast. There’s no way they would have been able to make it out of the building if Donloe had finished the security protocols a moment before or after he did, and that timing can only be described as lucky.