The actor that hands Ethan the black mask to place over his head to meet the arms dealer appeared in the first Mission: Impossible (1996) movie, giving him the same style mask when he is being taken to meet Max, an arms dealer.
The high-tech car that 'Ethan Hunt' drives near the end of the film is the Vision Efficient Dynamics concept car. It is an actual prototype of the BMW i8 plug-in hybrid that will enter production in late 2013. The concept car is powered by a 1.5 liter three-cylinder turbocharged gasoline engine and two electric motors.
The film made $693 million at the box office worldwide, becoming the highest-grossing installment in the franchise. It also surpassed War of the Worlds (2005) to become Tom Cruise's highest grossing film as of 2012.
The indoor water fountains in the Indian Palace use special laminar flow nozzles to launch streams of water with no turbulence. Special valves are used to "cut" the water into discrete segments. Similar fountain technology is used in the Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Las Vegas.
Jeremy Renner was offered the role of Jackson Lamb in Super 8 (2011) (eventually taken by Kyle Chandler) but took the role of Brandt when J.J Abrams told him that Tom Cruise and Brad Bird were interested with him. When accepting the role, Renner was only briefed on the film and character outline as there was no script at that point.
The cars visible in the moving-camera shot of valet parking in Mumbai are, in counterclockwise order from bottom left: Ferrari Enzo, Mercedes Benz SL 65 AMG Black Series, Bugatti Veyron 16.4, Ferrari F430, Aston Martin Vantage, Aston Martin DB9, BMW M6, and three white Rolls Royce Phantoms.
Was originally targeted for a mid-May 2011 release, with J.J. Abrams to direct. However, pre-production delays and script rewrites delayed the film, while at the same time, Abrams was busy working on his Super 8 (2011) film, prompting him to back out from directing, but still remain on producing duties.
In the scene when Ethan is taken to see the Russian arms dealer by the guy Ethan helped break out of the Russian prison, the wooden crates in the background are clearly stamped with the name, "Yu-ri" in letters from the Korean alphabet. Yuri (after Yuri Gorbachev) is the name often used in fictional and real-life spy books and movies to refer to Russian and/or Soviet spies, or the former KGB in general.
In Dubai, Tom Cruise is wearing a pair of glasses seen briefly in the train when the team is arming up for the mission. The same glasses are worn while scaling the hotel and are in fact Oakley Split Jackets, modified of course. They have clear frames with a special wind gasket and elastic strap which you can get for the standard models. Unfortunately, the glasses featured in the movie are one of a kind and are not available to the public.
Agent Carter releases a red balloon, with a camera attached to its knot, to drop a device within the outer walls of the Kremlin Palace. As the plot deals with Russian nuclear weapons, this is a nudge to the 80's German pop song "99 Luftballons," in which a flurry of red balloons pushes a trigger-happy general to launch several nukes and incite World War III.
When Benji (Simon Pegg) was addressed by his call sign Pluto, he replies, "Isn't Pluto no longer a planet?". This is factually true. On 13 September 2006, the IAU (International Astronomers Union) declared Pluto a non-planet status as it fails one of the three conditions for a definition of a planet.
In its 425-theater opening weekend, it grossed $13 million, setting the record of the highest-grossing opening weekend in less than 600 theaters (previously held by Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004)).
When Brad Bird agreed to direct the movie, he asked J.J. Abrams for the screenplay, and Abrams would be reluctant to show it to him, saying that Bird would have a lot of freedom in doing the scenes. After Bird finally asked Abrams for real for the screenplay, the producer admitted that they had several drafts, but nothing definitive at that point, and that Bird should take that opportunity to give as much input as he wanted.
Ethan Hunt's code number, and the number seen on a class ring. A113 is a frequent Pixar in-joke based on one of the room numbers for the animation program at Cal Arts. Brad Bird worked for Pixar, and he has worked an "A113" reference into every one of his feature films, as well as some of his television work.
At the end of the film, Ethan receives instructions for his next mission, which involves a terrorist organization called "the Syndicate." This is a nod to the original 1966 Mission: Impossible (1966) television series, where the Syndicate was the Mafia-like crime empire used as an enemy for most of IMF's domestic-based missions.
In an interesting nod to the first Mission: Impossible (1996) film, Ethan reveals to Brandt that the Croatia disaster and Julie's death was faked in order to flush out a mole. In the first film, Jim Phelps (Jon Voight) told Ethan the same thing behind the Prague assignment disaster.
The building grazed by the warhead is the Transamerica Pyramid, San Francisco's signature skyscraper. The windowless cap at the top is covered by aluminum panels and is only decorative, containing no office space.
Ethan Hunt sets up a meet with a Russian arms dealer over the phone, using a Dunhill lighter as the signal. This may be a clue that the meet isn't everything it first appears to be, as Jim Phelps used a Dunhill lighter in Mission: Impossible (1996). And, in fact, the audience learns after the climax that Hunt intended for the arms dealer to rat him out to the Russians all along, so they would believe the actual plot.