In the first “Mission: Impossible,” Ethan Hunt gets a little playful with the team he recruits to help him steal the NOC list of agents who are in place around the world. Ethan and his fellow agent Claire Phelps (Emmanuelle Béart) hire Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames, a staple of the franchise) and Franz Krieger (Jean Reno) to help them break into CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. After completing the heist, Krieger decides that he wants to be a more integral part of the plan to sell the NOC list. When he refuses to give Ethan the disc after the heist, Ethan pulls out another disc that he claims has the NOC list on it.
While taunting Krieger about the situation and whether or not he would actually trust the thief with the real NOC list, Ethan does a little sleight of hand by making the disc suddenly disappear out of his hands, not unlike a street magician. Then he pulls it out of Clarie’s coat with a cocky smile flashed at Krieger before tapping him on the head with the disc. Honestly, it’s much better if you remind yourself with a clip:
Again, Ethan pulls another sleight of hand trick when he claps his hands together and makes the disc disappear again before pulling it out of his back pocket. Ethan says, “Do you really think I’d let you have the NOC list?” Defeated, Krieger says, “Try any sleight of hand with my money, I’ll cut your throat.”
But of course, the real trick was Ethan convincing Krieger that he didn’t have the actual list. When Krieger leaves, he throws what he believes to be the fake disc into the trash. Then Ethan walks over and grabs it out of the trash, revealing that Krieger actually had the real NOC list in his possession the whole time.
Ethan’s sleight of hand skills come into play in “Dead Reckoning” in a similar fashion, when a thief named Grace (Hayley Atwell) gets caught up in the mad dash for the cruciform key. While having a back and forth with Grace about what he’s trying to accomplish and how she’s getting involved in something she can’t possibly fathom, Ethan uses some of his fast hands to make the key appear and disappear. It’s another fun callback to a skill we haven’t seen Ethan use since the first movie.