Since its revival in 1996, Tom Cruise has starred in five Mission: Impossible movies. The fifth one, Rogue Nation, hits theaters today. These movies are a testament to the time in which they were created. The somewhat over-the-top gadgets have gotten more advanced and less clunky over the years, the plots have adapted to the times, and the action sequences have become more complex. This list will rank the Mission: Impossible movies starting from the worst and working our way to the top. So let’s plunge right into what the worst that the franchise has to offer…
4. Mission: Impossible II
After the successful first movie, it was inevitable that a sequel would be made. However, this movie had a very different tone from the original Mission: Impossible. This could be attributed to the new director, John Woo, who specializes in making action movies, as opposed to Brian De Palma, who can certainly do action but is also known for making thinking and complex movies The Untouchables and Scarface. There was certainly a lot more action going on in this film. However, that is the nature of a Mission: Impossible film. More problems lied with poor supplementals. By supplementals, I mean production values. First, the music was atrocious, which is a surprise from Hans Zimmer, who is a prolific composer nowadays. His overuse of the electric guitar as a lead instrument did not work well for this movie. Second, the cinematography is flashy and oftentimes irrelevant. Whether it’s strange fights in the sand, four different angles of Ethan Hunt aiming his gun before he fires, or the birds flocking in a cellar, the cinematography draws the viewer out of the movie with its lack of subtlety.
Supplementals aside, this movie had some problems in the story department as well. The romance plot was terrible. We knew Ethan Hunt would never end up with a thief, and their romance being almost entirely built off of a narrowly-avoided car crash is a sloppy addendum. Lastly, there was the supposed twist. The first Mission: Impossible made the twist almost entirely about the masks, which worked well with that film. Mission: Impossible II tried to use the masks as well. Unfortunately, the twist was fairly predictable and lackluster, like the rest of this movie. Mission: Impossible II remains the worst of the franchise.
This film gets one fancy camera angle out five.
3. Mission: Impossible IV: Ghost Protocol
There is not much bad you can say about this film. It has a strong cast with Simon Pegg reprising his role as Benji from M:I:III and Jeremy Renner as a former IMF agent with tragic past. However, after Mission: Impossible III, this film felt like a step down. This was not a personal story for Ethan Hunt and lacked the character development of the previous. It also lacked Luther, who only provided a brief cameo in the film. However, the plot is fun and, while Ethan Hunt does not have much character development, the supporting cast has plenty with Benji entering field service for the first time and the revelations of Renner’s past. And let us not forget the cool stunt work on the skyscraper.
This film gets three and a half skyscraper climbing stunts out of five.
2. Mission: Impossible
Mission: Impossible served as a revival of the franchise from the 1960s. It even featured a character from the old show, Jim Phelps, as played by Jon Voight. This film is a meticulous spy movie in the same realm as From Russia With Love. Danny Elfman’s musical score perfectly creates this tone without much bombast. There is not as much action as any of the others, but the twists and turns keep the film from getting even close to boring. We also have some rather enjoyable gadgets with the gum explosive and the camera eyeglasses. With its twisted plot and ’90s technology, this film is a fun trip down Nostalgia Lane.
It gets four NOC floppy disks out of five.
1. Mission: Impossible III
After the lackluster second movie, it was nearly six years before audiences saw another Mission: Impossible film enter cinemas. The wait was well worth it with J.J. Abrams taking the helm as director. Mission: Impossible III‘s primary objective was to focus on Ethan Hunt as a person and it does so wonderfully. Ethan is no longer on active field duty but instead trains recruits. He is engaged, which further keeps him from wanting to go back into the field. However, when his superiors ask him to take one last assignment, Ethan’s personal life becomes threatened. Throughout the film, it is the protection of his fiance that drives him, which is why this film has found its way to the top of the list. Of course, Mission: Impossible III has incredible action sequences, a wonderful score from Michael Giacchino (who was just beginning to become well-known at that point), and a solid cast. One would be remiss in not mentioning Philip Seymour Hoffman’s incredible job as the villain.
Mission: Impossible III gets four and a half wind farm chase sequences out of five.
Do you agree with our list? How would rank them? Let us know in the comments!