RANKED: Mission Impossible

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Why Mission: Impossible is the Best Modern Action Franchise – /Film

I don’t write too many RANKED articles these days. This is partly because of laziness and partly because I’ve already written about all the stuff that I love. For this article, I endeavoured to try a different approach by ranking something that I had no previous knowledge of. I’ve never bothered with the Mission: Impossible franchise which is surprising as I love Tom Cruise and I’m perpetually stuck in the ’90s, so the combination of both of those things should have been a winner. I guess I’m just not into the spy genre (see also Bond, James). Here we go…

6. Mission: Impossible II (2000)

Franchise Expansion (Or Implosion) – Mission: Impossible 2 – COMICON

This being John Woo, the man behind the outrageously bonkers Face/Off, everything here is massively over the top. At one point, Tom Cruise and Thandie Newton dance around each other in seperate cars like two beautiful horses staring deeply into each other’s eyes. Then they start necking. It’s probably one of the least erotic sequences ever committed to film.

The problem is that ‘over the top’ normally translates as ‘lots of fun’, but there is no fun here. Woo has somehow made a film that is basically just Tom Cruise reacting to explosions and it’s still incredibly dull.

5. Mission: Impossible (1996)

Mission: Impossible (1996) - Alternate Ending : Alternate Ending

Our introduction to Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt is a solid if unspectacular one. I like how master director Brian De Palma doesn’t bother with back story, instead launching straight into the action and allowing the audience to make its own mind up. The twists and turns seem a little predictable and old hat now, but the scene that sees Cruise literally hanging on the wire has deservedly stuck around in the ether of pop culture.

This was probably De Palma’s last great movie, and while it was never going to win any awards, it’s a solid entry in a consistent franchise.

4. Mission Impossible: Fallout (2018)

Mission: Impossible - Fallout' is a testament to Tom Cruise's ...

With the sixth and most recent instalment of the Mission Impossible franchise, Christopher McQuarrie returns as director along with Rebecca Ferguson and Sean Harris – both excellent again here. While Fallout doesn’t quite hit the heights of the two films that preceded it, it’s still a great action film in its own right, and Tom Cruise shares a wonderful chemistry with Henry Cavill – who is surprisingly great in this despite making for a pretty dull Superman over in the DC Extended Universe.

Fallout shows that even 20 years later, the Mission Impossible franchise is still as entertaining and compelling as ever.

3. Mission: Impossible III (2006)

Still of Tom Cruise, Ving Rhames and Simon Pegg in Mission ...

By end of MI2, I was starting to wonder whether this entire project had been a mistake. The third entry benefits massively from the assured direction of JJ Abrams and a genuinely compelling antagonist in the shape of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s uncompromising villain Owen Davian. It’s still not a masterpiece but it’s a marked improvement on what came before.

Frustratingly, it is actually the pedestrian action sequences that let the third entry down. The classy script and the addition of Hoffman and Billy Crudup make for a memorable action flick, it’s just a shame about… well… the action. It’s also far too long.

2. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation (2015)

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation' Movie Review: How Good Is Tom ...

The good thing about the M:I franchise is that it encompasses a lot of different directors which means each instalment has a slightly different feel to it. Christopher McQuarrie takes over from Brad Bird here, and does a sterling job in continuing the story of the ailing IMF and Ethan Hunt’s continued love affair with blowing shit up and using cool gadgets.

Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner and Ving Rhames all return with Alec Baldwin and Rebecca Ferguson adding a little class to proceedings. McQuarrie provides us with ever more eye popping action set pieces, the most spectacular taking place during a night at the opera, and little Tom Cruise delivers another all action performance as Ethan Hunt. While Sean Harris is perhaps a little underused as the villain, Rogue Nation is another sterling entry into a consistent franchise that unusually seems to grow in confidence and stature with each new film. This is not normal for sequels, particularly in this genre.

1. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (2011)

Watch Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol | Prime Video

Now we’re talking. Finally, I see why they keep making these damn movies. Ghost Protocol – the fourth film in the franchise – marks the first time that Ethan Hunt feels closer to Indiana Jones than to James Bond. And the film is all the better for it. Cruise finally looks like he is enjoying himself, and this, combined with a bigger role for Simon Pegg, ensures that Ghost Protocol is the most flat out enjoyable film in the franchise.

Director Brad Bird wisely keeps the plot simple with the IMF excommunicated from the United States government and forced to survive on its own. We have a lovely cameo from Tom Wilkinson, a fine pair of sidekicks in the shape of Pegg and Jeremy Renner and the most awe inspiring special effects since the first movie. A genuinely great movie.

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