October 1, 2022
What Eugene Kittridge's Mission Impossible 7 Return Means for the Series

Many fans were surprised when the Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning – Part 1 trailer revealed the return of the series’ first Impossible Missions Force Director, Eugene Kittridge. Since the franchise has shuffled through IMF directors, the most recent being Alec Baldwin’s Alan Hunley, it seemed the story had moved on from the character. But since this installment marks the beginning of the end for Ethan Hunt’s (Tom Cruise) journey, it’s possible that any surviving characters, forgotten or revered, could appear.

Eugene Kittridge, played by Henry Czerny, hasn’t been seen since the very first Mission Impossible film in 1996. For the majority of the film, Kittridge was Hunt’s adversary until his name was cleared and the two made up. So what does his reappearance mean for the series, and why is Dead Reckoning returning to its roots?

Kittridge spends most of his screen time in MI1 trying to capture Ethan Hunt, who he believes to be an IMF mole. Just moments before Kittridge and Ethan’s meeting, Hunt’s team had been killed in an operation gone wrong. With Ethan being the sole survivor of the attack, Kittridge suspects him of trying to steal the NOC list, a document containing the names of undercover IMF agents around the world. In turn, Hunt flees from the IMF director throughout the film until he finds proof that Jim Phelps, his former boss, is the traitor.

In the hands of a lesser actor, Kittridge could have been a completely forgettable red herring antagonist. Thankfully, Czerny is a powerhouse performer and was able to breathe life into what was otherwise a surface-level threat. Czerny brought an intelligent intensity to Kittridge in the first film and helped set the stakes for the thrill ride fans went on during its runtime. So his reprisal has some wondering why the Mission Impossible team waited so long to bring back the veteran character actor.

» continue to CBR