In the movie Mission Impossible (1996) we see a scene where Ethan returns to the mission base (referred as Crow's Nest by Phelps) and after understanding that Job 3:14 was a reference from The Bible, he sends emails to Max.

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My Question: How did Ethan know Max's email id?

My points:

  • From just the previous conversation with Kittridge we see Ethan gets to know this name "Max" and the code " Job3:14" for the first time.
  • Once he returns, and once he understands that its from The Bible, he accesses "Usenet" and tries opening "Book of Job".
  • On entering 3: 14 and pressing enter, an automatic email window opens (which may have been configured by Phelps himself)
  • But the email window doesn't open with the recipient email id already, Ethan types "Max@Job 3:14" which implies he knew what Max's email was.
  • Ethan sends many emails,but keeps the email id constant. He alters the language only.

I did a quick search in the IMDb plot holes list but the only one entry regarding sending mails to Max, doesn't quite answer this issue.

  • 1
    Re: bolded text: If you're thinking that he already had Max's email in his contacts list because "Max@Job 3:14" is not a real email address (implying it's a name string,) keep in mind that this was 1996. Email was still just getting started in the public eye, so the amount of bulls#!t movies could get away with in this regard was much higher than it is today.
    – Steve-O
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 16:26
  • @Steve-O..I am not thinking anything. Just wanted to confirm with any reference that this was a plot hole. Its not mentioned as a plot hole in Imdb and Ethan was not the mole, that's the whole point of the plot. My issue is simply how could he type it himself.Not what the email id was. The structure of the id doesn't matter to me as of this moment. Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 16:35
  • I’ve wondered the same thing and am pretty sure it’s plot induced stupidity. He could not have known, and it’s silly that an email address would be so logically intuitive, much less created to be that intuitive by someone who takes great pains to hide her real life identity. As someone mentioned, in 1996 people may have not realized the silliness because internet and email were just taking off.
    – cola
    Commented Feb 16, 2018 at 0:57

2 Answers 2


He guessed*

It should also be noted that Ethan sends many emails to try and contact Max...not just one.

Ethan returns to the IMF safe house, where he uses the internet to find Job. Looking over the screen of his laptop, he sees a Bible on a bookshelf above the screen and deduces that "job 3:14" actually means the Book of Job, chapter 3, verse 14. Ethan begins to email as many web entities with the name Job 3:14 as he can before falling asleep.


*Not that spaces are allowed in email addresses anyway so it would be invalid

It's already established that the arm dealer who is the target of the film is called, or at least goes by the name of, "Max".

Meeting with IMF director Eugene Kittridge, Hunt reveals his awareness of a second IMF team sent to monitor them, and learns the job was a setup to lure out a mole within IMF, who is believed to be working with an arms dealer known as "Max" as part of "Job 314." As Hunt is the only member left, Kittridge suspects him of being the mole, and Hunt flees.


  • So, you are of the opinion that he guessed Max's email id. The speed with he typed doesn't make it seem so and neither did he try some other id's. But yes that's a possible route one could take to explain this. Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 14:51
  • I've added the point that Ethan tried lots of emails...
    – Paulie_D
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 14:52
  • Yes Pauli_D you did, but in those emails, he merely changed the language,the email id was constant/same. He was sure of it it seems. Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 14:53

Let's look at this in chronological order.

First of all, Ethan has no idea what Kittridge is referring to. Job 314? Sounds like a number. He begins searching Usenet. Why? That's not explained either, but as others have pointed out, the Internet was new and mostly a mystery when this movie came out. In fact, in the Sandra Bullock vehicle The Net, they showed an IP address onscreen that began with 792 or something. We all know 255 is the highest they go to. But I digress...

Anyway, Ethan spots a Bible and looks up the Book of Job. He goes to Chapter 3, verse 14. Job 3:14. he goes back to Usenet and searches for Bible. He then searches for a Book Of Job Usenet group, and up pops the Book Of Job Discussion Group. Yeah, that's not how it works, either. He's prompted for a Chapter and Verse, and up pops an email form with nothing filled in. Yeah, that's not likely either. So, Ethan types in the completely invalid email address, Max@Job 3:14. But, what do we know? Ethan knows computers, he's a spy, and 99% of the planet is still on America Online or CompuServe. Is it a real email address? No. Obviously. Did Ethan know Max's email address? No. Obviously. But it's a movie and the viewers weren't too knowledgeable, so it was worth a shot.

Kinda like that whole, "Hey, I know this! It's a UNIX system!" bit in Jurassic Park.

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