As stated in my review of Fallout, I watched all five of the previous Mission: Impossible movies in one day to prepare for the new film, so they’re all still fresh in my mind. So what better way to talk about one of my new favorite franchises than to make a list of all of them in order from worst to best? Now, it should go without saying that this is my opinion (but isn’t that what all reviews are?) so feel free to disagree with me. The only thing more fun than talking about movies is debating movie tastes, I always say. And with that, let’s dive right in.
6. Mission: Impossible 2
There’s really no better way to describe this movie than by saying “it’s Mission: Impossible directed by John Woo.” And while John Woo is an accomplished director in his own right, his style of storytelling just doesn’t fit the tone of Mission: Impossible well at all. With fights and shoot-outs that feel like they belong in The Matrix, cars exploding after sustaining even the smallest collisions, and Woo’s trademark white doves flying about, the movie just feels too goofy and out-of-place amongst the others in the franchise. Not to mention the incredibly boring and forced romance between Tom Cruise and Thandie Newton’s characters, or the overly-dramatic and ridiculous villain Sean Ambrose (portrayed by Dougray Scott). It’s not the worst movie I’ve ever seen by any means, but it’s probably the only movie in the franchise I wouldn’t want to watch again.
5. Mission: Impossible
Our introduction to the franchise. This is honestly a really great film for many reasons. The plot is simple enough, but there’s plenty of misdirection abound to keep you engaged, the cast is fun, and the action scenes, while basic compared to the newer movies, are very entertaining. It’s a movie from the 90s, but overall, it’s aged pretty well. Ethan Hunt’s first appearance gives us plenty of reasons to like him: he’s charming, funny, and doesn’t play by the rules. Everything you’d want in an action hero, but on top of this, he’s also a spy so he’s smart too. And this movie is also the first appearance of my favorite character Luther Stickell, played by Ving Rhames. While the big double-cross in the movie is pretty easy to predict, it doesn’t take away from the enjoyment of the film, and even though this movie is lower on the list it’s more of a testament to how good the other films in the series are rather than saying this one is bad.
4. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol
Ghost Protocol was a turning point in the franchise, as this was where the spectacle really started to ramp up. The stunts got wilder, and the explosions got bigger. This movie is often listed at the top of M:I lists (including our very own Marcus Orchard’s), and for good reason. While Ving Rhames is absent for most of the film and only makes a small cameo at the end, the rest of the cast is really great; Simon Pegg’s Benji Dunn cements himself as a main character in this film, and Paula Patton, in particular, does a fantastic job as part of the IMF team. The plot is one of the more enjoyable ones in the series, and the Russian setting is the perfect backdrop for a spy film. Plus, the scene with Ethan climbing the tallest building in the world is amazing. The only reason this movie is lower on my list is I felt the villains were pretty weak, and while the plot is good it’s not as good as the films higher on the list. Well, that and no Ving Rhames. The end of the movie is very heartfelt though and has a few cameos that we all loved.
3. Mission: Impossible III
M:I:III did a lot of things right in my eyes. Adding Michelle Monaghan to the cast as Ethan Hunt’s wife Julia Meade added a whole new emotional depth to Hunt’s character that was totally absent from the previous two movies. This new side of Hunt that we see makes his character feel more human, and at the same time more vulnerable. Hunt is someone who in previous films has felt mostly infallible, but with Julia, he now has a weakness that can be exploited. And boy, does Philip Seymour Hoffman as Owen Davian really exploit the hell out of that weak point. From the opening scene in the movie, tensions are high, and the film does a great job of keeping the excitement up throughout. This is also the first appearance of Benji, and while he’s little more than a minor character in this installment it’s still worth noting his involvement in the film is essential. Fun fact, this was also J.J. Abram’s directorial debut.
2. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation
After watching 1-4, I really expected M:I:III to be my favorite out of the original five films, but Rogue Nation really surprised me with how enjoyable it was. Sean Harris as Solomon Lane, while not as good as PSH for me, made for a great foil to Hunt and was the enemy that Sean Ambrose from M:I2 should have been. Jeremy Renner’s role from Ghost Protocol was unfortunately greatly reduced, but in his place came a new challenger: Rebecca Ferguson. Rebecca Ferguson added a new element to the series that elevated it even more than previous entries; she was finally someone who could stand on equal footing with Hunt, and while at times she would lend our heroes a helping hand you didn’t always know where her allegiances lied. Once her backstory is explained, you realize that she is a complex character that has many different agencies directing her actions. Alec Baldwin was also a nice addition to the franchise as an opposing force to the IMF without being a villain. Also, the concept of The Syndicate was an interesting idea and while not perfectly executed still made for some great scenes and action moments. This movie also has many of my favorite stunts from the series, like the underwater scene or Hunt dangling from a plane as it takes off (both of which Cruise actually did like the madman he is).
1. Mission: Impossible – Fallout
If you want my full opinion on this movie, go read the review! But man, do I love this movie. Some of the best stunts in the series, great cast, plenty of action and espionage, and a great villain. All in all, pretty much everything you’d hope to see in an action movie.
And there you have it, my list of all the M:I movies from worst to best. Whether you’re a long-time fan of the series or thinking about starting soon, hopefully, this list gives you some sort of insight into the franchise. But if there’s any real takeaway from this, let it be this: watch Fallout. It’s so damn good.