Impossible Movie, Ranked According To Letterboxd

The Mission: Impossible series is ramping up to a big couple of years, as the seventh and eighth movies will be released in 2023 and 2024, respectively. And cruise has just revealed the seventh film’s wordy title, Mission: Impossible – Death Reckoning Part One. But if that’s any signifier for how big the movie is, fans are in for a treat.

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The M: I movies have been getting bigger and more epic with each consecutive release, but that doesn’t always mean better. However, though there’s one missed opportunity in the series, the M: I films have impressively managed to remain remarkably consistent.

6 Mission: Impossible 2 (2000) – 2.6


Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt standing atop mountain in Mission Impossible 2

Before writer-director Christopher McQuarrie took over the reins of the series for Rogue Nation, Fallout, and the upcoming two sequels, the franchise prided itself on being auteur-driven. The first five movies in the series all had different directors, who all had their own distinctive styles. And the first example of such a dramatic change was with John Woo’s Mission: Impossible 2which is a far cry from Brian De Palma’s original espionage-based.

Woo was directing thrilling action movies full of gun-fu decades before it was popularized by John Wick in 2014, and on paper, a Woo-directed M: I movie should have been incredible, but that, unfortunately, wasn’t how it panned out. However, the 2000 movie is the only bad entry in the six-film series, and that’s an incredible batting average.

5 Mission: Impossible III (2006) – 3.3


David Fincher almost directed Mission: Impossible III, which would surely have made for a much more violent, bloody, and disturbing movie in the franchise. And that’s exactly why the collaboration didn’t happen, as even though Cruise specifically wanted Fincher, the thriller auteur’s pitch was way too dark for the studio. However, JJ Abrams came on board and directed something that’s surprisingly much more like Fincher’s movies than any of his own work.

The movie is dark, gritty, and intense, and though it lacks any huge death-defying stunts, it’s the most engaging and compelling film in the series in terms of Ethan Hunt’s personal life. And it goes into extraordinarily heartfelt detail about what his career path requires him to give up. On top of that, the 2006 movie features the most terrifying villain in the whole franchise, Owen Davian, who is played by the late, great Philip Seymour Hoffman.


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4 Mission: Impossible (1996) – 3.5


Ethan Hunt on a bungee line in Mission Impossible.

Many people don’t actually know that 1996’s Mission: Impossible is a continuation of the 1966 TV series it’s based on, and it even features Jim Phelps, who was a major character in the show. However, it was a passing of the torch, as the franchise quickly became the property of Tom Cruise, and he completely made it his own with the way he threw himself into the character of Ethan Hunt.

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New fans of the series might not find much interest in the first film, as it’s much slower-paced than what the movies have become. Instead of climbing up the sides of skyscrapers and hanging onto the wings of moving planes, the most jaw-dropping scene in Mission: Impossible is when Cruise slowly lowers himself into a room from a ventilation shaft. But it’s a great mystery movie and is full of thrilling espionage and realistic spying, and in that respect, the series has lost its way a little.


3 Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015) – 3.6


Mission Impossible Rogue Nation Plane

There are loads of huge stunts in the Mission: Impossible series, and that’s one of the franchise’s biggest selling points, as Cruise famously does all of his own stunts. And after seeing him ascend the side of the Burj Khalifa, the tallest skyscraper in the world, nobody thought that it could be topped. But in the most epic, badass way possible, Cruise told audiences, “Hold my drink.” In Rogue Nation alone, Cruise hangs on to the wing of a moving plane as it takes off, skydivers from that very plane, and holds his breath for seven minutes underwater. Not to mention that there’s a token motorbike chase.

Rogue Nation is also unprecedented in the series for many reasons. It was McQuarrie’s first movie in the series, who has become somewhat of a showrunner for the franchise and has kept a consistent theme. It also introduced Solomon Lane, who is to Ethan Hunt what the Joker is to Batman, as he’s seemingly in it to toy with Ethan more than anything. And Lane is the only villain in the series who has appeared in more than one movie. But with the way Fallout ended, it’s unlikely that he’ll be returning for a third one.


2 Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011) – 3.6


The stakes in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol are the lowest they’ve been in the series, and the villain is a random Russian with no personality, but it’s by far the most fun and entertaining M: I movie ever. And that’s because it’s directed by Brad Bird, who is best known for his meticulous comedy action.

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The directing choice seemed like a huge risk at the time, as Bird had only directed animated movies, but those animated films still feature some of the best action sequences of the 2000s. Bird directed The Incrediblesand based on the way the action sequences in Ghost Protocol are shot, that couldn’t be any more obvious. The action scenes are just as ambitious as they are hilarious, whether it’s the Burj Khalifa climb or Ethan and Benji haphazardly infiltrating the Kremlin. Ghost Protocol is one of the most influential action movies of the 2010s and it rescued the series and Cruise’s career.


1 Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018) – 3.9


Mission: Impossible – Fallout is one of the most spectacular and jaw-dropping action movies ever made, and it’s near impossible to comprehend how most of the film was even shot. The 2018 release is two and a half hours long and it jumps from one huge action sequence to the next. There’s a riveting and outright exhausting HALO jump, one of the best nightclub scenes ever, and a 15-minute helicopter chase sequence.

The writing in the series isn’t quite as tight as it used to be, especially considering the first movie in the series, and there’s way too much double-crossing that it’s hard for audiences to keep up. However, an amazing ensemble cast of characters has been built over the series, and Fallout features each of their best scenes. The only missing character is William Brandt, who hopefully returns for the seventh and eighth movies.

NEXT: 10 Goofs And Mistakes In The Mission Impossible Franchise

Split image showing the main characters from Romancing the Stone and Knight and Day.


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