Complete Guide to Mission: Impossible Movie Series

Complete Guide to Mission: Impossible Movie Series
Complete Guide to Mission: Impossible Movie Series

Mission: Impossible movie series is one of Hollywood’s most successful film franchises. Since its first release film in 1996, the Mission: Impossible films have been greatly received by movie audiences and critics. So far, seven movies have been released, with the last being Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One.

However, a direct sequel, Dead Reckoning Part Two, which has already been filmed, is scheduled for release on June 28, 2024. The film series has grossed over $4.13 billion. A good way to start with the Mission: Impossible movie series is to watch them chronologically. These are all the Mission: Impossible films listed by their release date.

Mission: Impossible (1996)

The first film in the series was the 1996 Mission: Impossible. It was directed by Brian De Palma and had a 31-year-old Tom Cruise as co-producer and playing the iconic character of Ethan Hunt. The film was created as a continuation of the CBS espionage television series and its ABC 1988 revival. Set six years after the events of its 1988 revival, Ethan Hunt is suspected of being an IMF mole. After realizing he has been set up by the leader of his team, Jim Phelps (Jon Voight), he plans to clear his name. He recruits two disavowed IMF agents, hacker Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) and helicopter pilot Franz Krieger (Jean Reno), and works with an illegal arms dealer, Max (Vanessa Redgrave).

In the end, he can prove to the IMF vice director, Eugene Kittridge (Henry Czerny), that the mole was Jim Phelps. Also, Ethan Hunt is offered a new mission as the team leader. Mission: Impossible (1996) grossed $457.7 million on an $80 million budget. It is the only film in the series with no gunfights or shoot-outs and one in which Ethan Hunt doesn’t shoot a gun. As he’s known to do, Tom Cruise did most of his stunts. Seeing he kept hitting his head on the floor in the film’s famous ceiling-to-ground hovering, Cruise had to place coins inside his shoe to balance his weight.

Mission: Impossible 2

Mission: Impossible 2 was directed by John Woo and released on May 24, 2000. Now team leader, Tom Cruise reprises his role as Ethan Hunt. Ving Rhames also reprises his role as computer hacker Luther Stickell. Mission: Impossible 2 revolves around a biological weapon and its cure. Rogue IMF agent Sean Ambrose (Dougray Scott) is the movie’s villain, with Thandiwe Newton playing the character of his ex and pretend girlfriend Nyah Nordoff-Hall. Hunt recruits Billy Baird (John Polson) as his helicopter pilot.

Also, Anthony Hopkins makes an uncredited cameo as Mission Commander Swanbeck. Mission: Impossible 2 became the highest-grossing film of 2000, grossing $549.6 million on a $120–125 million budget. Thandiwe Newton was cast as Ethan Hunt’s love interest before the film’s script was written. Newton was name-dropped by Tom Cruise’s then-wife, Nicole Kidman, as a credible actress for the role.

Mission: Impossible III

Mission: Impossible III was released six years after the last film, on May 5, 2006. J. J. Abrams was brought on to direct the sequel as his directorial debut, with the movie grossing $399.4 million on a $150–186 million budget. Philip Seymour Hoffman plays the movie’s villain as an arm’s dealer, Owen Davian, looking for the Rabbit’s Foot. The role was initially reserved for Kenneth Branagh, who pulled out to work on another movie. Mission: Impossible III features an impressive cast, with Michelle Monaghan playing Ethan Hunt’s love interest and wife, Julia Meade.

Forced out of retirement, Hunt works again with Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) and recruits Zhen Lei (Maggie Q) and Declan Gormley (Jonathan Rhys Meyers). IMF Director of Operations John Musgrave (Billy Crudup) recruits Hunt and is later found to be the mole. Other notable cast include Keri Russell as Lindsey Farris (a role initially given to Scarlett Johansson), Simon Pegg as Benjamin “Benji” Dunn, and Laurence Fishburne as Theodore Brassel.

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

Director Brad Bird was hired to direct the fourth installment in the series, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. Like J. J. Abrams, the film was Bird’s directorial debut. The film was released on December 16, 2011, and became the franchise’s highest-grossing film until 2018. Its $694.7 million box-office earnings made it the fifth highest-grossing movie of 2011. Simon Pegg reprised his role as Benji, with Ving Rhames making an uncredited cameo as Luther Stickell.

Ghost Protocol begins with Ethan Hunt in a Moscow prison. He’s pulled out to help prevent Kurt Hendricks (Michael Nyqvist) from starting a nuclear war between the United States and Russia. When Hunt is suspected of bombing part of the Kremlin, he’s chased by Russian SVR agent Anatoly Sidorov to be prosecuted. Hunt’s new team comprises Benji, William Brandt (Jeremy Renner), and Jane Carter (Paula Patton). As always, Tom Cruise did most of Ethan Hunt’s stunts himself. One notable stunt he performed was the scene outside the Burj Khalifa, dangling 518 meters from the ground.

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation was released on July 31, 2015. It is the first film in the series to be directed by Christopher McQuarrie. J. J. Abrams is also credited as one of the movie’s producers. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation grossed $688.9 million on a $150 million budget. The film follows the IMF’s disbandment and Ethan Hunt’s framing for executing an IMF operative. Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, and Jeremy Renner reprise their roles. Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) is the leader of the Syndicate and the movie’s main villain. Rogue Nation also stars Alec Baldwin, Rebecca Ferguson, Simon McBurney, and Tom Hollander.

Tom Cruise performed the famous scene when Ethan Hunt hangs outside the Airbus A400M without special effects or a stunt double. Jessica Chastain was initially considered to play Ilsa Faust (played by Rebecca Ferguson), but she reportedly dropped out because of the film’s six-month-long role training. Interestingly, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation wrapped up filming barely two weeks before it was scheduled for release.

Mission: Impossible – Fallout

Christopher McQuarrie became the first director to direct two consecutive movies in the Mission: Impossible series. Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018) grossed $791.7 million on a $178 million budget, becoming the highest-grossing film in the series. It also became the first film in the series with older cast reprising their roles. Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Sean Harris, Alec Baldwin, and Michelle Monaghan reprised their roles. Henry Cavill and Angela Bassett joined the cast.

Fallout continues with what’s left of the Syndicate transforming into the Apostles. Ethan Hunt is forced to make critical decisions, choosing to save Luther Stickell, and inadvertently hands over plutonium cores to the Apostles. He also encounters his past and risks his life to save his ex-wife. As a recurring theme in Mission: Impossible, August Walker (Henry Cavill) is later revealed to be a mole/impostor. If for anything, Solomon Lane also became the first villain in the series to reprise his role.

Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One

Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One was released on July 12, 2023. The film has the biggest production budget of all the released films in the series. Although not a box-office bomb, its earnings were far below expectations – largely due to the Barbenheimer effect. Dead Reckoning Part One grossed $567.5 million on a $220 million budget. The movie’s greatest threat is a powerful rogue AI, the Entity. Ethan Hunt races against time to ensure it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

With Ving Rhames reprising his role, he becomes the only actor (besides Tom Cruise) to appear in all seven released films. Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, and Henry Czerny also reprise their roles. Dead Reckoning Part One also stars Hayley Atwell, Vanessa Kirby, and Esai Morales. With Henry Czerny’s reprising his role, he became the character with the longest absence in the Mission: Impossible film series.

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