As I wrote in my review for the super dope Mission: Impossible — Fallout, the Tom Cruise-led franchise doesn’t rely on serial storytelling to get the job done. It thrills, it kills, and … that’s basically it.
But given that Christopher McQuarrie is the first director in the series to helm two movies in the franchise, his last being 2015’s Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation, Fallout is the first time the series asks its audiences to actually know what went down when Ethan Hunt previously had to save the world by the awesome might of his sprinting. Again, it’s not really necessary, but it helps.
For completionists who want to know every little detail packed into the densely plotted Fallout, here are all the “Easter eggs” you need to be aware of before accepting the latest mission from the IMF. Luckily, this post will not self-destruct five seconds after reading. Please feel free to Google this page as you’re walking out of the theater. (Just remember to look up from your phone when walking.)
The State of the IMF
In Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation, the “Impossible Mission Force” was officially disbanded and ordered by the U.S. government to be absorbed into the CIA, which was being overseen by Alec Baldwin’s CIA director Alan Hunley.
However, things went so well in Rogue Nation that the IMF was reinstated with a new Secretary: Alan Hunley. By the time Fallout begins, Alan is butting heads with Ethan Hunt, this time on the same side of the fence.
But don’t expect to see Jeremy Renner’s William Brandt, who joined the series in 2011’s Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol in Fallout. While he played a key role in Rogue Nation, Renner presumably got a little too busy fighting Thanos to rejoin Ethan and the IMF in the latest film.
Also, at this point, we probably don’t need to tell you about Luther (Ving Rhames, who debuted in the very first Mission: Impossible from 1995) and Benji (Simon Pegg, who joined in 2006’s Mission: Impossible III). But rest assured, they’re back and they’re probably not going anywhere.
The big villain from Rogue Nation, the creepy Solomon Lane (played by Sean Harris) returns in a big way in Fallout.
The ex-MI6 agent turned global terrorist is a pawn in a bigger game, played by more mysterious forces than his own Syndicate from Rogue Nation. In Fallout, the “Apostles” want Lane, as does the CIA (led by Angela Bassett’s Erica Sloane). Fallout marks the first time ever in the series’ history that an antagonist returns, like Lex Luthor seeking revenge against Superman yet again.
The Return of Ilsa
Rogue Nation also introduced Rebecca Ferguson’s Ilsa, a cunning MI6 agent and assassin who had the same goals as Ethan but sought to achieve them on her own. She returns in Fallout with essentially the same story, hoping to earn her freedom in one last job: Get Solomon Lane.
Au Revoir, Julia
In 2006’s Mission: Impossible III from J.J. Abrams, Ethan Hunt had retired from IMF duty. He was in the midst of entering a normal life with his fiancé, Julia (Michelle Monaghan), when he was of course called back into action to stop Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Owen Davian.
In 2011’s Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol, from director Brad Bird, Ethan had fully returned to active duty, and little was mentioned about Julia. By Rogue Nation she had virtually disappeared. But now, there’s a big reveal with Julia in Fallout that adds serious emotional stakes to the film’s epic final act.
As we said elsewhere, Fallout has just about the best reference to Mission: Impossible II of all time. You can read that here.
Mission: Impossible — Fallout hits theaters July 27.