Mission: Impossible - What Actually Kills Emilio Estevez's Jack?

While the "Mission Impossible" franchise has become synonymous with Tom Cruise's legendary stunt career, it also features its fair share of gruesome death scenes, particularly early on in the series. "Mission Impossible" hits the ground running with Ethan Hunt's (Tom Cruise) entire team dying one by one, but Jack's (Emilio Estevez) death stands out from the rest for its brutal fashion. 

During the movie's first mission, Jack sits atop an elevator, using his laptop to hack systems and control the transport tube. However, after a surprise betrayal from Jim Phelps (Jon Voight), Jack rides the elevator to the top floor, where convenient spikes eject from the roof, impaling him through the eye. The brutal death scene may have scarred audiences, tricking them into thinking elevator shafts contain some deadly spikes at the top, but everyone can breathe a sigh of relief, as Jack's death was only movie magic. 

To get to the bottom of how Jack died, CineFix sat down with an elevator technician in 2017 to break down the scene. "They come with spikes. I mean, when an elevator comes out, the first thing we install are the spikes at the top," the technician joked, reassuring audiences that elevators are a safe mode of transportation. "The last thing you're going to find in an elevator hoist are spikes that come down for no apparent reason."

Jack nearly returned for more impossible missions

In the real world, no one could die the way Jack did in "Mission Impossible," and the franchise nearly echoed that, as Emilio Estevez revealed that Tom Cruise initially wanted to bring his Impossible Mission Force agent back for "Mission Impossible 2."

"Tom was like, we were doing a run the year after [Mission Impossible] and he says, 'Man, we made such a mistake killing you off,'" Estevez told Uproxx. "He and John Woo were trying to figure out a way to bring me back for part two, but it just didn't make sense. I thought you could have because with all the masks, right?" We have to admit, even with the franchise's identity-stealing masks, a Jack return would be tough to pull off, as the elevator shaft's spikes found a comfortable spot in his skull.

Thankfully, Cruise would only bring back Jack if it made sense within the narrative, ensuring they didn't give fans an unexplained resurrection echoing the likes of the "Fast & Furious" franchise. Instead, Jack and the rest of Ethan Hunt's team met surprising ends early on in "Mission Impossible." As Estevez said in the interview, that was always the plan, as Cruise gathered a team of well-known actors to purposefully die in the movie's opening mission. "'It's really going to set up the level of peril for Ethan,'" Estevez recalled Cruise telling him.