Every Mission Impossible Movie Ranked from Best to Worst
Adapted from the 1960’s TV show, Mission Impossible has become one of the most profitable franchises in box office history. Powered by the “Cruise Missile” himself, it’s a safe bet to say these movies would not have survived this long without him. That being said, let’s rank them, shall we?
6. Mission: Impossible 3 (M:I-3)
The lowest grossing and least remembered of the franchise, audiences didn’t quite gravitate to this one as well as the others (although jumping on Oprah’s couch the year before might have affected the box office). In JJ Abrams theatrical directorial debut, he cut his teeth on the Mission: Impossible franchise first. Although this movie is ranked at the bottom of the franchise, the late great Phillip Seymour Hoffman gives one of the best opening scenes of any movie in history as the movie’s main villain. In fact, the opening scene was so good that the rest of the movie fell short in comparison. JJ Abrams love for plot twists and spoilers made the movie a little more convoluted than it should have been, and really had critics concerned about the future of this franchise. It did however have the greatest running scene of the franchise.
5. Mission: Impossible 2 (M:I-2)
Many list will have M:I 2 as the worst movie in the franchise, but they would be wrong. Unlike the dull and forgettable M:I 3, M:I 2 manages to reach the coveted “so bad it’s good” category. Directed by John Woo, this is probably the most stylized, if nonsensical, of the franchise. In fact, the third act is the first thing most people think of when someone brings up the entire franchise. Sorry, but there is no memorable running scene in this movie. Fun Fact: the plot is a remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s “Notorious.”
4. Mission: Impossible (M:I)
Directed by legendary Brian De Palma, the first Mission Impossible was wildly different from what the franchise is now. It was actually very light on action and more of a spy thriller. There was also a risk of making Tom Cruise the star of an action franchise, since he was mostly known for his dramatic roles and “Risky Business.” The stealth into the CIA base is so iconic it’s actually been parodied quite a few times and had callback in a few of the sequels. There was a pretty good running scene, but Cruise will have better in the future.
3. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (M:I-5)
Directed by Christopher McQuarrie, Rogue Nation almost feels like a reboot. It finally introduces the criminal organization “The Syndicate,” from the TV show the franchise is adapted. This is also where Tom Cruise perform one of the most insane stunts in movie history by hanging out of a plane. The breakout star of this movie however is Rebecca Ferguson, who manages to steal the movie from Cruise (similar to Emily Blunt in Edge of Tomorrow). Her name, Ilsa Faust, is a nod to Ingrid Bergman’s character in “Casablanca” who was named Ilsa Lund. Where does the first act of Rogue Nation takes place, you ask? Casablanca, Morocco.
2. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (M:I-4)
The movie that saved Mission Impossible, Ghost Protocol took the franchise in a bold new direction. Brad Bird, director of the incredible…uh…”Incredibles” made his live action directorial debut and brought the same kinetic energy that made him so successful in animation. While the first three entries seem to focus entirely on Tom Cruise’s character of Ethan Hunt, Ghost Protocol seems more of an ensemble cast where Cruise doesn’t have to do so much of the heavy lifting. You’ve seen Tom Cruise run, but have you seen Tom Cruise run in a Dubai sandstorm? Ghost Protocol gives you that.
1. Mission: Impossible – Fallout (M:I-6)
In a first for the movie, Christopher McQuarrie returns as director. Also, unlike the other movies in the franchise, Fallout is a direct sequel to Rogue Nation. Remember how I mentioned hanging from an airplane is Tom Cruise’s most insane stunt? Fallout calmly says, “hold my beer.” Not only does Tom Cruise perform an actual HALO jump, he even learns how to fly a helicopter so he can fly one in the final scene of the movie. The movie also feels more realistic and grittier than any other movie in the franchise. As much controversy as Henry Cavill’s mustache caused, it was actually worth the effort as he turns in a performance to match even Cruise. This movie also know the importance of a Cruise running scene, as there are several minutes dedicated just to him running with the beautiful landscape of the city in the background. You know the old saying, “just because you’re a movie star doesn’t mean you can skip cardio.”