|~ Hunt's most famous catchphrase when the mission is done.|
|“||These are not accidents, they are chained, a work of a single organization: The Syndicate - a rogue nation trying to do what we do with a new purpose, to destroy the system that created them without goodness who stands in their way.||„|
|~ Ethan Hunt's speech to Benjamin "Benji" Dunn.|
Ethan Matthew Hunt is the main protagonist of the action spy film series Mission: Impossible. He is a senior field agent for the Impossible Mission Force, an elite top-secret espionage and covert operations agency that handles dangerous and highly sensitive international missions that have been deemed "impossible".
He is portrayed by Tom Cruise, who also played Maverick in Top Gun and its sequel, Top Gun: Maverick, Charlie Babbitt in Rain Man, Ron Kovic in Born on the Fourth of July, Daniel Kaffee in A Few Good Men, David Aames in Vanilla Sky, Nathan Algren in The Last Samurai, Jack Harper in Oblivion, Jack Reacher in the Jack Reacher franchise, and Nick Morton in 2017s The Mummy.
- 1 Biography
- 2 History
- 2.1 Mission: Impossible (1996)
- 2.2 Mission: Impossible II
- 2.3 Mission: Impossible III
- 2.4 Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol
- 2.5 Rogue Nation
- 2.6 Fallout
- 3 Personality
- 4 Other appearances
- 5 Trivia
- 6 See Also
Ethan Matthew Hunt was born on August 18th, 1964 in Madison, Wisconsin, the only child of Margaret and Nathan Hunt. Raised on a dairy farm in Middlefield, New York, he enlisted in the Army right out of high school. Ethan enlisted for the military occupational specialty; Infantry, and decided that he would become an Army Ranger. After graduating Basic, Advanced Individual, and Airborne Training, Ethan was sent to the Ranger Indoctrination Program. Upon graduation of RIP, he was placed in the 3rd Battalion of the elite 75th Ranger Regiment, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Daniel David Briggs. He then attended and passed the course in the Ranger School, where he earned his Ranger Tab. Ethan eventually fought in combat during Operation Desert Storm.
After four distinguished years in the Army, Ethan went on to attend the University of Pennsylvania, where he was a double major in Engineering and International Relations. Upon graduating from Pennsylvania, he immediately sought employment with the Central Intelligence Agency. Before Ethan could join the Agency, he had to go through background checks, take the entrance exam, and go through a series of interviews and psychological tests. Upon passing the entrance and psychological examinations, Ethan was contacted by Colonel Briggs, who had joined the CIA in a high-level position a few years before and he believed Ethan would be perfect for an organization outside of the Agency. In short order, he was recruited into an ultra-secret agency called the Impossible Mission Force.
Although he was initially only told that he would be tasked with "unconventional black ops", Ethan exuberantly accepted the job offer. Afterwards, he was informed of IMF's mandate. He then went through an intensive operational training course to learn the so-called "operational intelligence" or "trade-craft" skills, including clandestine photography, surveillance, infiltration and extraction techniques. He was also trained for night parachuting, tactical high speed emergency driving and rappelling from helicopters, as well as dry and wet demolition. Because of his military experience, Ethan excelled through the whole course.
Once he completed his training, Ethan was given a "cover legend" as a systems analyst for the Department of Transportation and placed in a five person team (called an "IM Force") as the team's point man. Led by Senior Agent James "Jim" Phelps, the team's job was to infiltrate secure installations, seize critical intelligence, destroy dangerous data or equipment, and neutralize the enemy as needed, without leaving a trace. The IMF is different than most intelligence organizations in that, once their orders have been given, there are no required procedures for the fulfillment of the mission. Therefore, Ethan and his fellow agents could use any resources they deem necessary and success was all that matters. The downside was also obvious; if Ethan or any member of his team was either caught or killed, the Secretary of the IMF would disavow any knowledge of his or her actions.
Mission: Impossible (1996)
Find the mole within the IMF
Just a few months into his IMF career, Ethan's team assembled for a mission in Prague that would change Ethan's life dramatically. The objective of the mission was to prevent a U.S. diplomat from selling the Non-Official Cover (NOC) list - a comprehensive list of all covert agents in Eastern Europe. The mission went inextricably wrong, resulting in the deaths of the team, leaving Ethan the sole survivor. Fleeing the scene, Ethan met with Eugene Kittridge, the CIA-based director of the IMF, at a café. Ethan, very much in shock, was disturbed to learn from Kittridge that a mole, code-named Job, had infiltrated IMF, and that the Prague operation was meant to ferret Job out by allowing the mole to acquire the NOC list and attempt to sell it to "Max", an illegal arms dealer known for corrupting IMF agents. The NOC list in Prague was fake, the real list being held in CIA headquarters in Virginia. With Ethan the sole survivor, the CIA believed he was the mole. Ethan realizes this, and mounted a daring escape from the café, fleeing into Prague.
Ethan returned to the IMF safe house, where he discovered fellow IMF agent Claire Phelps, Jim's wife, actually survived the mission. Ethan began a correspondence with "Max" (a woman), explaining that the NOC list was a fake and offering to deliver the real NOC list in exchange for the identity of the mole. Max agreed to the deal and offered Ethan a cash advance, which Ethan used to assemble a team of disavowed former IMF agents, including computer expert Luther Stickell and pilot Franz Krieger. The new team infiltrated the heavily fortified headquarters of the CIA in Langley and successfully stole a copy of the full NOC list before escaping to a safe house in London. Once there, Ethan discovered that his uncle and mother had been falsely arrested for drug trafficking in an attempt to lure him out. This infuriated Hunt, and he contacted Kittridge, who offered to drop the false charges the moment Ethan surrendered to the authorities. Ethan hung up, after allowing Kittridge to trace him to the London area, turned around and walked right into Jim Phelps.
Phelps, presumed dead in the Prague operation, revealed that Kittridge was the mole and was tying up loose ends by trying to apprehend Ethan. Ethan reflected on this, while in reality piecing together the clues he discovered leading up to his operation and realized that Phelps was the mole, Job. Ethan pretended to accept the story while being uncertain about Claire's place in the conspiracy. The next day, Max and Ethan arranged to meet aboard the TGV en route to Paris, with Claire and Luther aboard to provide backup. Kittridge was also aboard, having recently arrived in London and received tickets for the TGV and a video watch from Ethan. In the train, Ethan delivered the supposed NOC list to Max, who directed him to the luggage compartment to find his money, and Job.
Max then attempted to transmit the NOC list to a server, an operation hindered by Luther, who activated a jamming device to prevent the upload. Claire, observing Kittridge's presence aboard the train, vacated her seat and met with Phelps in the luggage car, confirming her part in the conspiracy. A silent "Phelps" slowly peeled away his mask, revealing himself as Ethan. Suddenly, the real Phelps appeared, armed and demanding the NOC list and the money. Ethan revealed that he knew the truth about Phelps before they met in London, having realized that he stole a Bible from a hotel in Chicago prior to the Prague mission. Ethan surrendered it before pulling out a pair of glasses. He slid them over his eyes, activating the camera inside and transmitting Phelps' image to Kittridge, proving beyond a doubt that Phelps was still alive and the mole.
Phelps, now revealed as the traitor, shot Claire in anger when she spoke against killing Ethan. He then beat Ethan down before escaping to the roof of the train, where Krieger, also a traitor, waited to extract him with a helicopter. Ethan recovered and followed Phelps, impeded his efforts to escape and tethered Krieger's helicopter to the train as it headed into the Channel Tunnel. The fight continued, with the helicopter now following the train inside the tunnel. The two fought atop the wind-swept train before Phelps disconnected the helicopter from the train and attempted to escape. Ethan followed, leaped onto the helicopter's landing skids and attached explosive gum to the windshield. The ensuing explosion killed Phelps and Krieger, with Ethan narrowly escaping. Kittridge, now in possession of the NOC list and Max's true identity, dropped his investigation against Ethan and reinstated Luther as an IMF agent.
A little while later, as Ethan was on a plane flying home, a flight attendant approached him and through a coded phrase asked if he's ready for another mission; because of his actions during the crisis, Ethan was promoted to the position of team leader. After being given the new cover legend of a traffic engineer who studies traffic patterns for the Virginia Department of Transportation, he officially became a "senior field operations agent." Since then, Ethan Hunt has become the Impossible Mission Force's premier field agent.
Mission: Impossible II
Retrieving the Chimera Virus
Ethan, while on holiday, is alerted by the IMF that someone has used his identity to assist Russian molecular biologist, Dr. Vladimir Nekhorvich, of Biocyte Pharmaceuticals to enter the United States, only to kill him in a subsequent plane crash. Nekhorvich, an old friend of Ethan, had forewarned the IMF of his arrival, planning to deliver a new synthetic virus, Chimera, and its cure, Bellerophon, both of which he was forced to develop by Biocyte Pharmaceuticals, into the IMF's hands. With his death, IMF is worried that the virus is out in the open, believing that rogue IMF agent Sean Ambrose is responsible. IMF assigns Ethan to recover it. Ethan is told that he can use two members of his team to help him, but the third person to help him must be Nyah Nordoff-Hall, a highly capable professional thief presently operating in Seville, Spain, as she will be able to get close to Ambrose, being an ex-girlfriend.
After recruiting Nyah, Ethan meets two members of his team—computer specialist Luther Stickell and Australian pilot Billy Baird in Sydney where Biocyte laboratories are located along with Ambrose's residence. As Ethan and the others stake out Biocyte, Nyah gets close to Ambrose and begins to work him for information related to the Chimera virus. At a horse racing event, Ambrose quietly meets with the CEO of Biocyte, John C. McCloy, and shows him a video of the Chimera virus affecting one of Nekhorvich's colleagues, taken from Biocyte, so he can blackmail McCloy into cooperating with him. Nyah is able to pocket the video footage long enough to transfer it to Ethan and his team, who learn that the Chimera virus has a 20-hour dormant period before it causes death through mass destruction of the victim's red blood cells. Bellerophon can only save the victim if used within that 20-hour window.
The IMF team kidnaps McCloy and learns that Nekhorvich had actually injected himself with Chimera, the only way he could smuggle the virus from Biocyte, and had all the known samples of Bellerophon, now presently in Ambrose's hands. Ambrose had forced McCloy to sell him the virus for £37,000,000 in exchange for the samples of Bellerophon. Ethan's team plans to break into Biocyte and destroy the virus. Ambrose, posing as Ethan, tricks Nyah into revealing Ethan's plan. Ambrose secures Nyah and prepares to raid Biocyte himself to secure the virus. Ethan is able to destroy all but one sample of the virus before Ambrose interrupts him, and a firefight ensues. Ethan learns that Ambrose is holding Nyah and stops firing, during which Ambrose orders Nyah to retrieve the last sample. When she does so, she injects herself with it and prevent Ambrose from simply killing her to get it. As Ambrose takes Nyah and Ethan escapes from the laboratory in the ensuing firefight between Ambrose's men and Biocyte security personnel, Ethan starts a 20-hour countdown before the virus takes over Nyah's body.
Ambrose opts to let Nyah wander the streets of Sydney in a daze, intending to trigger a Chimera pandemic in Australia, and orders McCloy to effectively hand over enough control of Biocyte to make him the majority shareholder; Ambrose's plan is now to make a fortune when prices of Biocyte's stock skyrocket due to demand for Bellerophon. Ethan's team is able to locate and infiltrate the meeting, stealing the samples of Bellerophon while taking out many of Ambrose's men. Luther and Billy locate Nyah, who has wandered to a cliff side, intent on killing herself to prevent Chimera from spreading. As the two IMF agents bring Nyah to Ethan, he and Ambrose engage in hand-to-hand combat. With little time left on the 20-hour countdown, Ethan finally gains the upper hand on Ambrose and kills him, and Luther injects Nyah with Bellerophon. IMF clears Nyah's criminal record, and allows Ethan to continue his vacation with her in Sydney.
Mission: Impossible III
Tracking the Rabbit's Foot
Ethan Hunt has retired from field work of the Impossible Mission Force and instead trains recruits while settling down with his fiancée, Julia Meade, a nurse who is unaware of Ethan's true job. Ethan is approached by fellow IMF director John Musgrave about a mission to rescue one of Ethan's proteges, Lindsey Elisabeth Farris, who was captured while investigating an arms dealer named Owen Davian. Musgrave has already prepared a team for Ethan: Declan Gormley, Zhen Lei, and his old partner Luther Stickell, who are waiting for him before travelling to Berlin.
The team rescues Lindsey and collects two damaged laptop computers. As they flee via helicopter, Ethan discovers an explosive pellet implanted in Lindsey's head. Before he can disable it, it goes off and kills her. Back in the U.S., Ethan and Musgrave are reprimanded by IMF Director Theodore Brassel. Ethan learns that Lindsey mailed him a postcard before her capture and discovers a magnetic microdot under the stamp.
IMF technician Benjamin "Benji" Dunn recovers enough data from the laptops to determine Davian will be in Vatican City to obtain a mysterious object called the "Rabbit's Foot". Ethan plans a mission to capture Davian without seeking official approval. Before leaving, he and Julia have an impromptu wedding at the hospital's chapel. The team successfully infiltrates Vatican City and captures Davian.
On the flight back to the U.S., Davian threatens to kill Ethan and his loved ones. Ethan then threatens to drop Davian out of the plane, during which Davian overhears Luther calling Ethan by his first name. After landing, Ethan learns that the microdot contains a video of Lindsey warning that she believes Brassel is working with Davian. The convoy taking Davian across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge–Tunnel is suddenly attacked, and Davian escapes. Fearing for Julia's safety, Ethan races to the hospital, only to find she has already been taken. Davian gives Ethan 48 hours to recover the Rabbit's Foot in exchange for Julia's life, but Ethan is soon captured by the IMF.
Musgrave takes part in Ethan's interrogation but discreetly mouths that the Rabbit's Foot is located in Shanghai, China, and provides Ethan with the means to escape. Ethan and his team raid the building where the Rabbit's Foot is secured, and inform Davian that they have the Rabbit's Foot. Ethan, delivering the Rabbit's Foot alone, is forced to take a tranquilizer. As he comes to, he realizes a micro-explosive is implanted in his head. The restrained Ethan sees Davian apparently holding Julia at gunpoint (the full scene opens the movie). Despite Ethan asserting that he brought the real Rabbit's Foot, Davian shoots Julia and leaves.
Confrontation with Davian
Musgrave arrives and explains that the woman killed by Davian was not Julia, but Davian's head of security in a mask, executed for failing to protect Davian in Vatican City. The Julia-mask was used to force Ethan to confirm the authenticity of the Rabbit's Foot. The real Julia is alive and held as Davian's hostage. Musgrave reveals himself as the mole, having arranged for Davian to acquire the Rabbit's Foot to sell to a terrorist group so the IMF would have reason to launch a preemptive strike. Musgrave asks Ethan about the microdot Lindsey sent, wanting to know if Lindsay had compromised him. To convince Ethan to cooperate, Musgrave dials his phone for Ethan to hear Julia's voice to confirm she is alive.
Ethan bites on Musgrave's hand and knocks him unconscious, freeing himself, and uses Musgrave's phone (with Benji's help) to track down the location of Musgrave's last call. Ethan finds Davian and pushes him into the path of a truck, but not before Davian triggers the countdown of the micro-explosive. Freeing Julia, Ethan instructs her to electrocute him, deactivate the explosive, and then revive him. He also instructs her in using a gun for her protection. Julia fatally shoots Musgrave and successfully revives Ethan and he explains his true IMF career to her.
Back in the U.S., Brassel congratulates Ethan as he leaves for his honeymoon with Julia. Ethan is unsure if he will return to the IMF. Brassel promises that he will tell Ethan what the Rabbit's Foot is if Ethan will promise to return. Ethan smiles and walks off with Julia.
Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol
In Croatia, Ethan and Julia were both together until Hunt realized that the only way to protect her from death was to fake it. Agent William Brandt was assigned to watch the family, following Ethan one day as he went for a jog. Brandt assigned two men to watch Julia before he left and after returning, he found them both unconscious and Julia gone. Days later, Brandt was told that what was left of Julia's body had been found. In apparent retaliation for his wife's murder, Hunt killed six Serbian nationalists linked to the crime, and as a result was sent to Rankow Prison. In reality, the IMF invented this cover story so they would allow Hunt to infiltrate the prison, in the hope of gaining information in regards to a terrorist named Cobalt. Julia, now safe, was kept a secret by Ethan, who had to keep his distance from her.
In 2011, in the wake of the bombing of the Kremlin at the hands of Kurt Hendricks, Hunt and the entire IMF team was disavowed, and the remaining crew were branded as terrorists.
On assignment in Budapest to intercept a courier working for a person of interest code-named "Cobalt", IMF agent Trevor Hanaway is killed by an assassin named Sabine Moreau. Hanaway's team leader, Jane Carter, and newly promoted field agent Benji Dunn extract Hunt and the IMF's source Bogdan from Rankow Prison. Hunt is recruited to lead Carter and Dunn to infiltrate the secret archive room in Moscow Kremlin and locate Colbalt's file containing his true identity. Partway through the mission, someone broadcasts the IMF's frequency, alerting the Russians to Hunt's team. Although Hunt, Dunn, and Carter escape, a bomb destroys the Kremlin, and Russian agent Anatoly Sidorov accuses Hunt of masterminding the attack.
The IMF extracts Hunt from Moscow. The Russians have called the attack an undeclared act of war, and the U.S. President activates "Ghost Protocol", a black operation contingency that disavows the entire IMF. Hunt and his team are to take the blame for the attack, but they will be allowed to escape from government custody so that they may operate in the dark to track down Cobalt. Before Hunt can escape, the IMF's secretary is killed by Sidorov's security forces, leaving Hunt and intelligence analyst William Brandt to find their own way out. The team identifies Cobalt as Kurt Hendricks, a Swedish-born Russian nuclear strategist who believes the weak must die for the strong to survive, so he plans to start a nuclear war to initiate the next stage of human evolution. Hendricks bombed the Kremlin and acquired a nuclear launch-control device, and now needs its codes from the Budapest courier in order to launch a nuclear missile at America.
The exchange between Moreau and Hendricks's right-hand man, Wistrom, is due to take place at the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. There, Hunt's team-members separately convince Moreau and Wistrom that they have made the exchange with one another. However, Moreau identifies Brandt as an agent. While Hunt chases Wistrom — only to realize that Wistrom is actually Hendricks in disguise, escaping with the codes — Carter detains Moreau. Moreau attempts to kill the inexperienced Dunn, and Carter throws her out a window to her death. Brandt accuses Carter of compromising the mission for revenge against Moreau, but Hunt knows that Brandt is keeping secrets from them, as he has displayed fighting skills atypical of an analyst. While Hunt seeks more information from Bogdan, Brandt admits he was assigned as security detail to Hunt and his wife Julia while on assignment. Julia was killed by a Serbian hit squad, prompting Ethan to pursue and kill them before he was caught by the Russians and sent to Rankow Prison as a result.
Bogdan and his arms-dealer cousin inform Hunt that Hendricks will be in Mumbai. Hendricks facilitated the sale of a defunct Soviet military satellite to Indian telecommunications entrepreneur Brij Nath, which could be used to transmit the order to fire a missile. While Brandt and Dunn infiltrate the server room to take the satellite offline, Carter gets Nath to reveal the satellite override code. However, Hendricks has anticipated Hunt's plan and disables Nath's servers before sending a signal from a television broadcasting tower to a Russian nuclear submarine in the Pacific. Then, the submarine fires a missile on San Francisco. Hunt pursues Hendricks and the launch device while the other team members attempt to bring the broadcast station back online. Hunt and Hendricks fight over the launch device before Hendricks jumps to his death with it to ensure the missile's detonation. Dunn kills Wistrom, allowing Brandt to restore power to the station and enabling Hunt to deactivate the missile, while a dying Hendricks witnesses the failure of his plan. He is confronted by Sidorov, who sees Hunt has stopped the missile, proving the IMF is innocent in the Kremlin bombing.
The team reconvenes weeks later in Seattle. Hunt introduces the team to former colleague Luther Stickell, and then issues them new assignments. Benji and Jane accept, but Brandt refuses to accept the mission. Hunt reveals that Julia's death was staged, as he knew he could not protect her and used her death as a pretext to infiltrate a Russian prison and get close to Bogdan, an IMF source on Hendricks. Relieved of his guilt, Brandt accepts his mission while Hunt watches Julia from afar knowing that they will be together again when they are safe. They share a smile before he goes off on his next mission.
Confrontation with The Syndicate
After intercepting a consignment of V.X. nerve gas in Minsk, bound for Syria, IMF agent Ethan Hunt is convinced that he can prove the existence of the Syndicate, an international criminal consortium of rogue agents and trained killers. Reporting into an IMF substation to receive his orders, the Syndicate reveal their existence to Hunt, having infiltrated the station to subdue him. Hunt is rescued by disavowed British agent Ilsa Faust, a Syndicate operative who offers no explanation for her actions. With their existence confirmed, Hunt begins following his only lead: a blond man in glasses who oversaw his capture, later identified as former MI6 agent and Syndicate leader Solomon Lane.
Meanwhile, CIA director Alan Hunley and IMF agent William Brandt are summoned before a Senate oversight committee to justify the continued existence of the IMF. Citing their reckless behavior and near-miss in San Francisco during the events of Ghost Protocol, Hunley demands that the IMF be disbanded and absorbed into the CIA. With Brandt unable to reveal operational details without permission from the Secretary of the IMF, the committee side with Hunley, whose first act is to name Hunt as the CIA's most-wanted man.
Six months later, Hunt leads a CIA Special Activities Division team to an empty safe-house as a means of passing information on the Syndicate to his friend, intelligence analyst Benji Dunn. Suspicious of Hunley's actions and believing he will kill Hunt at the first opportunity, Brandt recruits former agent Luther Stickell to discreetly find Hunt, using a likeness of Ilsa found at the safe-house. Hunt arranges for Dunn to attend an opera in Vienna, recruiting him to take part in a covert mission to locate the man in glasses. Realizing that the Syndicate plans to assassinate the Chancellor of Austria at the opera, Hunt intervenes by shooting him before the Syndicate can. Escaping with Ilsa, one of the intended shooters, he is powerless to prevent the Chancellor from being killed by a car bomb put in place as a redundancy, with Lane nowhere to be found.
Ilsa partners with Hunt and Dunn to locate a file hidden by a Syndicate traitor on a high-security server terminal used to regulate a Moroccan power station. Believing it to be a ledger containing the names of all Syndicate agents, the trio secure it before Ilsa betrays Hunt and Dunn. She returns to London, passing the file on to her handler, Attlee. However, Attlee discreetly erases the file, forcing Ilsa to return to the Syndicate and prove her loyalty to Lane.
Regrouping with Brandt and Stickell, Hunt and Dunn follow Ilsa back to London, where they debate the nature of their work. Having betrayed one another so many times, they can no longer be certain of their own loyalty, question what to do next as they cannot be sure that Lane has not anticipated and moved to manipulate them. When Dunn and Ilsa are abducted by Lane's men, Hunt realizes that Lane will always have a plan to acquire the files, and that the only sure way to stop him is to force a confrontation with him. He agrees to Lane's ultimatum to abduct the British Prime Minister and use his voice print to unlock the file.
Disturbed by this turn of events, Brandt contacts Hunley and reveals their location. Hunley arrives at a charity auction to try and prevent Hunt from attacking the Prime Minister, and take him with Brandt and Attlee to a secure room. Having posed as Attlee, Hunt reveals himself and has the Prime Minister confirm the existence of The Syndicate: a top-secret black project that sought to recruit disavowed foreign operatives to carry out clandestine missions; an initiative that the Prime Minister rejected as too extreme. When the real Attlee arrives, Hunt subdues him and admits that he and Lane hijacked the project and went rogue, and that Atlee has been covering up its existence ever since. As a result, Attlee is arrested and taken into custody.
Stickell discovers that the file is not a ledger of agents, but contains the location and access codes for billions of dollars in untraceable funds that Lane has been desperate to get to expand the Syndicate's operations. Hunt memorizes the data and destroys the file to force Lane to release Dunn and Ilsa in exchange for what he knows. He lures Lane out into the open and into a trap set up by Stickell. Imprisoned in a bulletproof cell, he is gassed and taken into custody.
Some time later, Hunley and Brandt return to the oversight committee of the U.S. Senate to reinstate the IMF. Hunley explains that their original meeting gave them a pretext to let Hunt's team infiltrate the CIA and destroy the Syndicate without arousing suspicion. The committee is skeptical, believing Hunley is trying to save face, but agree when Brandt again refuses to discuss operational matters without permission. Outside, Brandt addresses Hunley as the Secretary of the IMF, revealing that the entire scheme was an elaborate ploy to expose and destroy the Syndicate.
Confronting The Apostles
Two years later, Ethan is given a mission to intercept three stolen plutonium cores before a splinter cell known as the Apostles (formerly The Syndicate) can sell them to a fundamentalist named John Lark. He joins Benji and Luther for the mission, but they fail: a member of the Apostles secretly arrives ahead of them and takes Luther hostage, whereupon Ethan's attempt to save him results in the plutonium being taken by the Apostles. The team capture rogue nuclear weapons specialist, Dr. Nils Delbruuk, and trick him into revealing his personal information, learning that he built three portable nuclear weapons for the Apostles.
Ethan and CIA Special Activities Division agent August Walker infiltrate a fundraiser party in Paris by HALO jump where Lark is believed to be buying the cores from an arms dealer known as the White Widow. They track a man whom they suspect to be Lark, but he is killed when Ilsa Faust intervenes. Ethan impersonates Lark and meets the White Widow. He warns her that agents of the Apostles have been sent to kill her and the two evade their pursuers.
Ethan is tasked with extracting Solomon Lane from an armored convoy moving through Paris and provided with one of the plutonium cores as a payment in kind for the mission. Ethan and Walker attack the convoy and lead the police and the White Widow's men on a chase across Paris while Benji and Luther secure Lane at the same time.
Suspecting that Walker is the leader of The Apostles and is John Lark, Ethan and his team hatch a plan to expose him by having Benji to disguise as Lane and send Hunley to capture him. They inform CIA Director Erica Sloane of this information, who sends a task force to capture everyone indiscriminately. However, the IMF team is attacked by members of The Apostles disguising as task force and Hunley is murdered in the process. Ethan pursues Walker in London and is unable to capture him.
Meanwhile, Ethan and his team discover that Lane and Walker plan to detonate two remaining nuclear weapons over a glacier in Kashmir and contaminate the water supply of Pakistan, India, and China to starve a third of its population. Reaching the medical camp, Ethan finds that Walker has arranged for his estranged wife Julia to be assigned there to raise stakes against him. Ethan pursues Walker in a helicopter while Luther, Benji and Ilsa find the bombs in two separate locations.
As the lengthy chase goes on, Walker discovers Ethan and attempts to shoot him down with his light machine gun until Ethan quickly rams Walker's helicopter out of the sky. They crash onto the snowy mountain where both Walker and Ethan fight on its cliff edge and Ethan kills Walker using the helicopter's hook. In the process, Ethan gains control of the detonator, allowing Luther, Benji and Ilsa to disarm the bombs simultaneously and recover the remaining two plutonium cores.
With the crisis averted, Sloane hands Lane back to MI6 through the White Widow, earning Ilsa's exoneration in the process. Ethan is taken back to the medical camp via helicopter and recovers from his injuries with Julia's help while the rest of the team joins him in victory.
|“||Hunt is uniquely trained and highly motivated - a specialist without equal - immune to any countermeasures. There is no secret he cannot extract, no security he cannot breach, no person he cannot become. He has most likely anticipated this very conversation and is waiting to strike in whatever direction we move. Sir, Hunt is the living manifestation of destiny.||„|
|~ Alan Hunley describing Ethan Hunt to the UK Prime Minister.|
Ethan is proactive, tending to initiate events rather than respond to them. Even before Jim Phelps betrayed him, Ethan tended to act independently; that trait became his dominant one after his time as a fugitive. He is capable of planning and undertaking very intricate schemes, particularly covert intrusions.
According to Ambrose, he prefers misdirection to confrontation, as expected as a covert operative, and Ethan will do his best to avoid endangering innocent bystanders.
Ethan is extremely observant, with an almost-photographic memory, and his ability to make profound deductions with limited clues is very impressive. He is also very good at hiding his reaction to critical information; for example, during one mission he realized one of his hired hands was also one of the people who assassinated his former team, but he did not show any visible reaction that would have given away this revelation.
Ethan enjoys engaging in playful banter in conversation and often wins people over quickly by virtue of his charm.
He is also incredibly intelligent, and almost recklessly daring in his missions. He is highly cunning and extremely astute and calculating, especially when it comes to knowing his enemies. He is highly idealistic and devises philosophical traps during debates.
Ethan is also a very observant person and has an almost photographic memory.
Finally, Hunt's personality is subdued in the first movie, but becomes more extravagant and extroverted during the next two.
He is described as a tough, uniquely trained and highly motivated individual who is a great expert without any equal and described as immune to any countermeasures. In most of the films, he is depicted as an individual who is able to extract any secret data, breach any security system, and become any person in the world easily via the latex masks provided by the IMF.
Alan Hunley, former director of the CIA, had described Hunt as the ultimate personification of destiny, and it is proven the whole time during every mission. Most of all, Hunt is a man of work; as he loves his job and almost nothing would stand in his way to finish his missions and defend the world as he knows it.
- Peak Human Condition: As an IMF agent and former U.S. Army Ranger, Ethan is in peak physical condition. His strength, speed, agility, reflexes and durability are all at peak levels for a man in his age, height and weight. Ethan has shown himself capable of performing incredible physical feats such as holding his breath for long periods, withstanding intense physical pain and torture, jumping from great heights and between buildings, withstanding extended altercations and recovering quickly, clinging to the side of an airplane in flight, climbing up the side of a mountain with no equipment and running at incredible speeds for long periods without tiring. Ethan keeps himself in shape in between missions through an intense workout regime as well as hobbies like rock climbing.
- Expert Martial Artist: According to Ethan's profile, he has been trained in the Brazilian martial arts of Capoeira. He shows limited fighting ability, kicking a CIA employee while stealing the NOC list, but he is later knocked out in a confrontation by the elderly, but more experienced Jim Phelps. He uses various kicks, holds and flips during attacks on terrorist personnel during the next two movies. In the second installment, we see him using techniques inspired by Capoeira, which fits with his profile from the first movie. He also uses Aikido and Jujutsu techniques during his fight with Ambrose. In the third installment, while still using some Capoeira, he also utilizes techniques from Keysi, and in a training scene with Lindsey Farris, he was teaching her the Filipino martial arts of Eskrima. He displays several extremely complex techniques in the fourth movie, including a selection of Capoeira and Taekwondo moves. During his prison escape, he mainly utilizes Karate and judo moves, and resorts to combined Capoeira, Ninjutsu, Taekwondo, and Karate moves and strategies. During the sixth movie, he is shown to be using techniques from Keysi, as well as techniques from Eskrima, Muay Thai and Krav Maga.
- Weapon Mastery: Ethan is highly skilled with a variety of weapons including handguns, rifles and knives. He is also very skilled at using whatever is available to him as a weapon and using his environment to his advantage in combat.
- Expert Marksman: Ethan is highly skilled in the use of firearms. He shot and killed Sean Ambrose and Saif and later draws on and kills multiple targets within seconds. He is able to use a variety of weapons.
- Master Spy: Ethan is very skilled at breaking into even the most secure facilities and breaking out without being detected. In the first movie, Hunt is a master of disguises, stealth, and espionage tactics. As the series progresses, however, Hunt abandons many of his stealth tactics in favor of force. Ethan reused his mastery of stealth and surprise while battling Kurt Hendricks. Through the use of latex masks and voice modifiers as well as other changes to his appearance, Ethan is able to impersonate high ranking officials and is skilled at remembering their behavior enough to fool even those close to them. Ethan is a master escape artist, able to free himself from various confinements. He is also skilled at escaping capture and breaking others out when necessary.
- Gifted Intellect: Ethan is incredibly intelligent and has shown himself to be very skilled in espionage, infiltration, counter intelligence and is skilled at adjusting his plans to account for changes as well as knowing how to plan well in advance and improvising new plans when necessary. He also has an excellent memory and can remember messages and details of missions easily.
- Master Tactician: Ethan is a highly trained tactician who is skilled at coming up with and executing plans for a variety of missions and is very good at understanding his opponents and using their flaws and plans against them. One of his favorite measures is to let those he is targeting think they have him beaten and enact counter measures that he was relying on for his own plans to succeed.
- Expert Driver: Ethan is a very skilled driver who is able to use both cars and motorcycles.
- Multilingualism: In addition to English, Ethan is also fluent in multiple languages without accent like Spanish, Russian, German and French. He is skilled enough to fool even native speakers.
- Lip Reading: Ethan is able to read lips. He first demonstrates this ability when he is able to understand what Julia and her friends are talking about, despite not hearing them, and later uses it to figure out a hidden message from John Musgrave.
- Rock Climbing: Ethan enjoys engaging in rock climbing as a hobby and form of exercise and is very skilled at it. He is able to climb up a cliff face with no equipment and jump from one area to another and is able to pull himself up a mountain side using only his strength.
- High Pain Tolerance : Ethan is very skilled at overcoming pain and can withstand excruciating injuries and torture without breaking.
- Indomitable Will: Arguably Ethan's greatest skill is his incredible determination. Regardless of what he has to do, he will not stop until he succeeds in his mission and refuses to ever accept defeat, no matter what setbacks he endures.
Aside from the Mission: Impossible films, Ethan Hunt has appeared in the 1998 video game based on the first film and the 2003 video game Mission: Impossible – Operation Surma, voiced by Steve Blum. He also appears as a playable character in the crossover game Lego Dimensions, with archive footage from the first film being used for his voice.
- Ranked # 3 on Watchmojo's list of "The Top 10 Movie Spies".
- Voted # 41 on Ranker's "The Most Hardcore Big Screen Action Heroes".
- Tom Cruise is known for doing many of his own stuns in film, and went through vigorous training for many of them (e.g. the HALO jump in Fallout).
- Cruise fractured his ankle during a stunt, specifically when jumping across a rooftop in Fallout, and the footage was used in the trailer and film.