Brilliant Mission: Impossible Theory Reveals a Dystopian Sci-Fi Twist

Dead Reckoning may actually show fact and fiction blurring together.

Mission: Impossible does something no other action movie franchise has achieved. Bucking the modern trend of the cinematic universe, the Tom Cruise-led saga established a massive fandom of its own based solely on the increasingly wild stunts and situations that Ethan Hunt manages to survive by the skin of his off-kilter teeth.

But just why is that? Even if they’re played by Tom Cruise, no man is truly that lucky that many times in a row. It would only take one false step to break this man’s streak, not to mention his neck. But maybe there’s a reason the mission turns out to be possible over and over. A wild new Mission Impossible theory reveals a surprising take on the franchise — and Dead Reckoning Part One might just provide the evidence we need.

The relative simplicity of the early Mission Impossible movies could have a technological explanation.

Paramount Pictures

Prolific fan theorist TheMediocreCritic posits that, within the world of the franchise, Mission: Impossible is actually the name of a simulation created to see how these “impossible” missions could truly be accomplished, with each movie being one of these successful simulations. At the start, the program (aka, Tom Cruise and the IMF) was simple, so the missions were a bit more straightforward. In the later films, the technology has grown so complex that even the most difficult of missions are solvable.

Confused? It might help to think of the popular Black Mirror episode “Hang the DJ,” in which a computer simulates countless romantic interactions to find the best possible match. But in this case, instead of trying to set up a date, it’s preparing to save the world.

This theory might sound ridiculous, but it kind of explains Mission: Impossible perfectly. The tonal shift between movies thanks to different directors can be chalked up to different versions of the software (we’ve been on the Christopher McQuarrie update for a while now). The way that Hunt seemingly never gets hurt or even ages also makes more sense if he’s just a computer simulation.

Even some of the dialogue supports it. In Rogue Nation, Tom Cruise’s hero is called “the living manifestation of destiny,” which makes sense of his entire reason for existing is to find a way to succeed. And in Dead Reckoning Part One, he’s “a mind-reading, shape-shifting agent of chaos,” which sounds a lot more like a computer program than a human being.

Ethan Hunt really is the manifestation of destiny — because in other simulations, he ends up in a heap on the runway.

Paramount Pictures

Dead Reckoning also contains another huge clue that could confirm this theory: The Entity, a rogue artificial intelligence threatening to upend the global world order. Any sci-fi fan can tell you that if a technology gets advanced enough, it will become sentient. Maybe this AI villain is actually a “self-insert” of the technology, running its own rogue simulations to find a way to defeat even the unstoppable Ethan Hunt program.

Even if the Mission: Impossible franchise ends without confirming it’s all a simulation, this theory still provides a cool explanation that might even become canon in Dead Reckoning Part Two.

Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part One is in theaters now.

Related Tags