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The 10 Best ‘Mission: Impossible’ Gadgets

The 10 Best ‘Mission: Impossible’ Gadgets
23 Jul
2:42

In the 22 years since the Tom Cruise first became Ethan Hunt, Mission: Impossible has proven it can hang tough with the best action franchises out there. The formula just works: a short prologue, a great theme, a self-destructing message, an inscrutable plot loaded with crosses and double-crosses, death-defying stunts, and yes, high tech gadgets that border on science fiction.

The sixth entry, Mission: Impossible–Fallout, executes that formula flawlessly. Before the film hits theaters this Friday, we took some time to revel in some of our favorite gadgets from the Mission: Impossible films.

The World’s Greatest Comms

In the earlier Mission: Impossible films, you’d often see an IMF team member slip a tiny gewgaw in their ear and do a comms check(or even use a phone, like in the pic above).

By the time we get to Fallout that added step of verisimilitude is gone. Ethan (Cruise), Benjy (Simon Pegg), Luther (Ving Rhames) and Isla (Rebecca Ferguson) are always in radio contact with one another, even though we don’t see any gadget whatsoever.

No matter how much running, jumping, fighting or climbing is going on, whatever miraculous directional microphone is buried inside our heroes’ ear canal can somehow pick up the conversation. Most of the tech in this series is something I would never actually use day-to-day but, man, I’d really like to get my hands on whatever comms system they have.

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Flute Gun

One of the most suspenseful sequences in any Mission: Impossible film is the opera house assassination attempt in Rogue Nation. Ethan is watching Isla (our introduction to Rebecca Ferguson), but he’s also watching a guy backstage who transforms his flute into a high powered, sighted, and silenced rifle. And not just any flute, a weird-looking bass flute!

As the killer waits for a high A in the “Nessun Dorma” aria from Puccini’s “Turnadot,” Ethan conducts himself in the most instrumental way: beating the crap out of the shooter. It’s not the most futuristic gadget in the franchise, but it’s certainly the most classical.

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Exploding Gum

The silliest piece of tech is the scene-stealing exploding gum. It comes in an inauspicious silver wrapper, but if you mush the red and the green side together, blammo! Ethan uses this early in the first Mission: Impossible to escape the IMF director convinced Ethan is a mole by throwing the chewy weapon at a giant restaurant fish tank.

It sounds crazy, but Tom Cruise looks fabulous diving out a window amidst proto-sushi. His second stick appears at the big finish, slapping it against a helicopter that is hitched to a train as all zoom through the Channel Tunnel at high speeds.

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Shazam for Faces

Ghost Protocol opens up with an IMF agent on the run from baddies in Budapest. After he leaps from a building (tossing a tiny contraption that manages to blow up into a humongous air mattress in about one second) he sees a woman, and then a warning on his phone: assassin.

Later we catch a flashback and see how one of his contact lenses has a mechanism that scans faces, then sends these images to some sort of database. Thus, he is able to find his mark at a crowded train station.

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Orange, Metal-Eating Foam

Mission: Impossible III features an outstanding action sequence on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, a 23-mile crossing that is exciting enough without nefarious henchmen shooting rockets at you.

Ethan Hunt has the ruthless black market trader Owen Davian (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) shackled up inside an armored transport vehicle. Davian’s posse comes to rescue him, but when the moment strikes, a bunch of goons approach the side of the van and…spray it with something.

A moment later the metal shatters like glass and the bad guy gets away. It’s never said what this miracle orange goop is but it’s one of the great visual moments of the series.

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Optical Camouflage Screen

When Ethan and Benjy sneak into the Kremilin in Ghost Protocol they need to slip right past the nose of a guard. It’s a bit of a throwback to the famous “dangle” sequence from the first film, where a drop of sweat would set off an alarm inside CIA Headquarters, but no one thought to put a security camera in there. Anyway, the trick here is a movable screen that creates a false 3D projection.

Importantly it tracks the eyes of anyone looking at it to keep the perspective correct, which becomes a problem when additional people enter the hallway. The effect in exhilarating, but a little paranoia-inducing. Next time you ever think you are alone, double-check to make sure there aren’t some jokers making faces at you behind some sort of plane of invisibility.

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Climbing Gloves

Ghost Protocol also features one the series’ best stunts: Ethan Hunt swinging along the side of Dubai’s 163 story Burj Khalifa skyscraper. Yes, that’s really Tom Cruise and, yes, he’s got some cables holding him up that are removed by movie magic, but that probably doesn’t reduce the pants-wetting factor as much as we’d like to think.

In the movie, though, Ethan Hunt is doing his human fly bit thanks to some high-tech gloves that stick to window panes. “Blue is glue, red is dead” he’s told, and then, for some reason, one of the gloves does turn red. Why? Well, because it’s great to see Tom Cruise figure out how to save himself a mile up in the air, that’s why. But for the few moments when the gloves work, they are the sleekest accouterments Hunt’s ever worn.

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Voice Changer

“Playing Halloween” is a key trope in the Mission: Impossible series. Every time someone pulls off one of the highly detailed rubber masks to reveal they are the other guy, it’s a thrill.

In Mission: Impossible 2 the impersonation game steps up a notch to include not just the look but the sound. A little appliance that sticks over the larynx is all you need to change your voice to that of your mark.

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Mask Maker

The masks are a pivotal part of this beloved series, but it isn’t until the third film that we get to really dig in and see how the process works. A 3D printer (which becomes considerably more portable by entry number 6) is shown shaving and painting away to create a new version of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s head.

It takes some suspension of disbelief to make the leap from what’s clearly a disguise to, you know, another actor, but some tricky editing and smooth visual effects transitions always gets the job done. Between the voice changer and the mask maker, anyone can be anyone.

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Remote Control Car

Something a smidge more believable happens at the beginning of Fallout. Ethan, Luther and Benjy are in a jam, and they need to get moving fast. Benjy whips out a very small tablet (perhaps even a phablet) and, as if he were playing Need For Speed on mobile, his snazzy vehicle races over with just the twirl of his thumbs.

A lovely grace note: Ethan reminds him to open the doors, which he does with a little poke. With the Internet of Things already changing climate controls and radio stations in vehicles, driving the damn thing can’t be too far off.

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Bonus: Thomas Cruise Mapother IV

There is no technological wonder as extraordinary as the 56 year-old action star known to the world as Tom Cruise. While not exactly a slouch of a thespian (see Magnolia or Jerry Maguire), the Mission: Impossible films are not really about great acting. They are about movement and propulsion and, in the case of Cruise, doing absolutely bonkers stunts.

Throughout the franchise, he’s dangled in the CIA’s Headquarters, rock climbed in Moab, leapt on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, swung around on the world’s tallest building, and hung on the wing of an airplane in mid-flight.

And in Fallout he takes a HALO jump and, later, is flying a helicopter himself. Tom Cruise is the clutch piece of machinery for this franchise, and he hasn’t glitched once.

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Source: https://www.popularmechanics.com/culture/movies/g22365901/best-mission-impossible-gadgets/

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