Mission: Impossible Films Ranked

I tend not to concern myself with the personal lives of those I like to watch on screen. So couch jumping and Scientology, though damn odd, don’t prevent me from enjoying a Tom Cruise film. What matters is my realisation that I enjoy most of the films I’ve seen him in. From A Few Good Men to Oblivion, he’s a true movie star.

In a happy coincidence I’ve managed to come across and watch all of the Mission: Impossible films on TV in the months leading up to seeing the latest entry, Mission: Impossible – Fallout. Not in order mind you, but seeing them all again has shown me just how much I enjoy this series. It’s going to be tough, but I thought I’d rank them!

For some additional thoughts, as he is one of those horrible people who can wear his hair at seemingly any length and make it work, I will also be judging his hair cut in each film. Bastard.


Mission: Impossible II

I could see someone arguing that this film should be top of the list, and I wouldn’t blame them. M:I II is ridiculous and stupid and such a sharp turn in tone from the first film I’m surprised there are no broken necks. It really stands apart from the others, and that is down to John Woo.
Yes there are Doves.
As mindless entertainment I like it. Even when the bikes change tyres halfway through a chase depending on the surface. It’s bonkers! But I feel like the other films do a better job with the character of Hunt and get a better handle on what an Impossible film should be.
Then again, it’s the only film with a Limp Bizkit version of the theme tune. Maybe it should be #1.

Hair – Stunning.


Mission: Impossible

The stakes and stunts are small in comparison but not to be sniffed at. The original film is more a thriller, quickly doing away with the original premise and some of the characters. It’s taut and really plays on Hunt’s paranoia as everything shifts around him. Shows just he clever he can be too.
The CIA break in is still a classic piece of cinema and one that has been copied and parodied multiple times. People say this one is slow but between that sequence and the helicopter chase there’s still plenty of action and suspense.
It is funny seeing how old the tech has become this point.
I put this one fifth as I think it’s a better film than M:I II, but I’d be very torn were they both on TV at the same time.

Hair – Very short and smart, befitting of a younger agent.


Mission: Impossible III

The first two entries may have been jarringly different, but they gave the series the chance to be anything. With the third film, and JJ Abrams directorial debut, this is where the series starts to find it’s rhythm. It’s perhaps slightly more brutal, and Hoffman is wasted, but these films aren’t so much about the villain as they are the mission and chase they give Ethan Hunt. With Hunt having retired to train new recruits whilst also being in a loving relationship, it does begin to build out the character a bit more. Ultimately though, Cruise must run for a good minute in one take, and that’s what we’re here for.

Hair – Bit longer than the first film with a nice quiff.


Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

Template firmly in place, Rogue Nation uses a ‘best of’ approach, taking aspects from the preceding films as it’s slightly more serious (like the first), yet has the ridiculous set pieces (like the fourth). So Cruise put himself on the outside a plane as it took off. It’s batshit crazy, but at this point you just believe Hunt can do anything. Soloman Lane doesn’t do a hell of a lot here, but which villains do in these films? There isn’t so much humour here, but that’s balanced out by just how good a foil Ferguson is for Cruise. She’s alluring and one of the best aspects of the entire film.
That this film is as good as it is and still only comes third should tell you a lot about the quality of the series at this point.

Hair – Fits his age. Solid length to it.


Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

If III was the series beginning to find it’s true calling, Ghost Protocol is where things really hit a high gear. Brad Bird proved he could put together action with a team dynamic in The Incredibles and he does it again here. There’s a fantastic balance between high stakes and humour.
Cruise running down the side of the Burj Khalifa is one of the craziest things you’ll ever see in a film. Renner is a good addition and Pegg is moved out of the support role and into the field, which gives Cruise some very capable guys to bounce off. Neither of them can quite believe what they’re seeing or are asked to do; something I think the audience can really buy into. It zips along amazingly well too.

Hair – Bit longer again. Nice swoosh to it. Especially in the wind high up.


Mission: Impossible – Fallout

A Limp Bizkit song away from being perfect?
Fallout is the first film in the series to really look back. Sure Luther pops up a lot, but here he’s given things to do and also brings a real emotional core to the whole thing! Same for Solomon Lane, who’s presence I think will have a positive impact on my next viewing of Rogue Nation. Shame there’s no Hawkeye this time around, but instead we get Superman! Don’t think I’ll ever get bored of seeing Cavil reload his guns.
This one has it all. The crazy stunts, the double crosses…it feels as though it’s pulled everything together to make something special.

Hair – There’s a strong parting, but it’s roughly the same as RN. Decent if nothing special.

What do you think? Ultimately I enjoy all of them on their own merits. But it was an interesting exercise to rank them.

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