All Mission Impossible Movies Ranked Worst to Best

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Ranking Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible Movies from Worst to Best


In the wake of the latest installment, Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning, it’s time to reflect on Tom Cruise’s past Mission: Impossible movies. We can’t help but marvel at how this action superstar has survived countless death-defying stunts throughout the years. Whether you love him or not, Cruise’s genuine passion for real action sets him apart as one of the most devoted actors, alongside the likes of Jackie Chan. In an era where CGI dominates, Cruise’s dedication to performing his own stunts is a refreshing gift to audiences. Arguably, some of the most memorable stunts come from the Mission: Impossible movies, which have become a hallmark of the franchise. In this article, we will rank all the Mission: Impossible movies, from worst to best, including an analysis of the latest entry, Dead Reckoning Part One.

The Worst of the Franchise: Mission: Impossible II

Ranking at the bottom of the list is Mission: Impossible II. It’s no surprise that this movie is often considered the weakest in the series. Directed by John Woo, known for his dramatic Hong Kong style noirs, Mission: Impossible II takes an overblown and somewhat unconventional approach. The tone is more dramatic than thrilling, which can be off-putting for fans of the spy thriller genre. However, there is still something entertaining about this film, almost like watching a circus clown ad-libbing an act and succeeding. Although the atmosphere may be over-the-top, it delivers on the franchise’s signature ticking clock scenarios and showcases some impressive action sequences. Mission: Impossible II may be a guilty pleasure, but it manages to find its own direction and experimentation, making it an entertaining addition to the series.

Examining Dead Reckoning Part One

Please note that this ranking is temporary for those reading this article before June 28th, 2024. After the release of Dead Reckoning Part Two, the rankings may be updated. Dead Reckoning Part One, directed by Christopher McQuarrie, is a film that leaves several plot points and character arcs unresolved. It may be challenging to fully assess this movie without considering its sequel. However, one notable criticism revolves around the underdeveloped villain portrayed by Esai Morales. While the potential for a character-driven antagonist connected to Ethan’s past existed, it feels relatively superficial in the context of the film. Nevertheless, Dead Reckoning Part One offers incredible stunts and a pervasive atmosphere of mistrust and fear that engages viewers. Although the ranking of this film is currently tentative, it sets the stage for a grand finale in the next installment.

Rogue Nation’s Controversial Placement

Ranking fifth on our list is Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, directed by Christopher McQuarrie. This entry receives high praise and solidifies McQuarrie’s role as the franchise’s director for future installments. It is important to note that from this point forward, all movies rank above the “good” line. The film opens with a bang, defying expectations by placing the thrilling plane liftoff scene right at the beginning. It sets the tone for an action-packed story filled with intricately designed sequences and complex international schemes. However, Rogue Nation falls slightly short in sustaining its initial impact throughout the entire film. The finale, primarily a foot chase and street fight, doesn’t quite match the intensity of earlier scenes like the jaw-dropping opera house fight. Additionally, the Syndicate, the film’s villainous organization, doesn’t fully live up to its potential, leaving some viewers wanting more. Despite these minor drawbacks, Rogue Nation remains a solid entry in the franchise, highlighting McQuarrie’s directorial talents.

The Thrilling Fallout

Securing the fourth spot on our ranking is Mission: Impossible – Fallout, also directed by Christopher McQuarrie. This film is a testament to the excellence of action filmmaking. Fallout impresses with its meticulously crafted stunts, notably the HALO jump sequence, which highlights the immense dedication of both Tom Cruise and the unsung cameramen. In addition to the stunning action, this movie excels in character development, particularly for Ethan Hunt. Unlike previous entries, Mission: Impossible III delves deeper into Ethan’s emotions, providing a strong foundation for personal stakes and a sense of desperation. While the film occasionally dips into exposition-heavy moments and predictable twists, these minor flaws do not overshadow the overall solid performance. Fallout serves as a template for creating a remarkable action experience and solidifies McQuarrie’s position as a successful director for the franchise.

An Ode to the Original: Mission: Impossible

Coming in at number three is the original Mission: Impossible, directed by Brian De Palma. Often overshadowed by the more recent entries, this film should not be underestimated. Mission: Impossible maintains a distinct style that sets it apart from the rest of the series. It captivates viewers with a sense of unease, deceit, and paranoia, creating a unique atmosphere. While the plot may initially seem convoluted, it becomes clearer as the film progresses, thanks to its well-defined goals and antagonists. However, it is the characters and their hidden motives that create a murky fog of uncertainty, adding to the engaging experience. Despite the film’s smaller scale compared to later installments, it showcases a legendary vault scene that intensifies the tension like no other. Mission: Impossible provides a refreshing take on the spy genre, emphasizing the importance of atmosphere alongside blockbuster action.

Emotion and Darkness in Mission: Impossible III

Controversially placed at the second spot is Mission: Impossible III, directed by J.J. Abrams. This entry is often regarded as “good but not great” by many. However, the film holds a strong personal connection for me due to its genuine characterization of Ethan Hunt. By introducing a loving wife as a vulnerable point for Ethan, the movie successfully humanizes its protagonist. Tom Cruise’s committed performance shines through, showcasing his acting prowess beyond the death-defying stunts. Mission: Impossible III also admirably embraces a darker tone, evoking a sense of desperation throughout. With a villain played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, the film delivers a menacing presence that leaves Ethan struggling to gain control. Although some critics find fault with certain aspects of this movie, such as the disbandment of Ethan’s organization feeling like an afterthought, its engaging action and compelling personal storyline earn it a well-deserved place near the top of our ranking.

The Ultimate Fun-Filled Thrill Ride: Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

Claiming the number one spot and solidifying its position as a fan favorite is Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, directed by Brad Bird. This film excels in providing sheer, unadulterated fun to viewers. Brad Bird’s background in animation shines through, creating a bouncy and colorful visual style that complements the action-packed sequences. While maintaining its cartoonish charm, Ghost Protocol manages to remain grounded enough to fit within the franchise’s framework. The movie expertly balances moments of high-stakes action, such as the thrilling Burj Khalifa stunt, with a persistent sense of impending doom. Every setback faced by the heroes takes them closer to global catastrophe, keeping viewers on the edge of their seats. Ghost Protocol may not have the same level of deep characterization as some other entries, but its consistent fun factor and memorable moments make it an unmatched favorite among fans. This film reminds us of the pure joy that blockbuster action cinema can provide.


The Mission: Impossible franchise has become a hallmark of thrilling action and death-defying stunts. While each film brings its own unique qualities, some stand out more than others. From the worst-ranked Mission: Impossible II to the fan-favorite Ghost Protocol and the recent release, Dead Reckoning Part One, each movie offers a different experience within the action spy genre. Tom Cruise’s unwavering commitment to performing his own stunts adds an unparalleled level of authenticity and exhilaration to the franchise. As we eagerly anticipate the release of Dead Reckoning Part Two, the future of the Mission: Impossible series looks promising, and fans will continue to be captivated by the breathtaking action and thrilling escapades of Ethan Hunt and his team.


  1. When was Dead Reckoning Part One released?
    Dead Reckoning Part One was released globally in theaters on July 12, 2023.
  2. What are the best stunts in the Mission: Impossible movies?
    Tom Cruise loves to defy death in each Mission: Impossible movie. Some of the best stunts in the franchise include the plane liftoff scene in Rogue Nation, the HALO jump sequence in Fallout, and the thrilling Burj Khalifa stunt in Ghost Protocol.
  3. Which Mission: Impossible movie is the most character-driven?
    Mission: Impossible III stands out as the most character-driven installment in the franchise. It delves into Ethan Hunt’s personal life, providing a deeper emotional connection to the protagonist.
  4. Why is Mission: Impossible considered a benchmark for action cinema?
    The Mission: Impossible series sets a benchmark for action cinema due to its dedication to real action and death-defying stunts. Tom Cruise’s commitment to performing his own stunts adds a level of authenticity and spectacle that captivates audiences worldwide.
  5. Who is the best villain in the Mission: Impossible movies?
    Philip Seymour Hoffman’s portrayal of the villain in Mission: Impossible III is often regarded as the franchise’s most memorable. His chilling presence and understanding of how action movie heroes operate make him a formidable antagonist.