ByOwen Paul Sloane, writer at
Owen Paul Sloane

Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation hit theatres this weekend so I decide now is as good of a time as ever to do a countdown of my rankings of the five films from best to worst. In the week leading up to Rogue Nation's release I watched and re-watched the first four films, and I came to realize that I love the Mission: Impossible films (most of them at least), they're smart, entertaining, well-directed, and are generally very well-paced. They introduced Tom Cruise to the world of stunt-work and also introduced him to the role he can pretty much play in his sleep. Being that each film has a different director they all have a different tone and feel to it (for better or for worse) so they each feel like a different movie, which I like. I like the fact that they're different movies and I get a different experience with each film. Keep in mind that this is my opinion and if you disagree feel free to crucify me in the comments below. I'll try to keep my spoilers to a minimum but I do recommend watching the films before continuing. Without further a due...

5. Mission: Impossible II (duh)

This one's pretty much a no-brainer when it came down to which one goes on the bottom, that being said I still don't think it's as bad as most people say it is. The one thing that should be made clear is that M:I 2 is first and foremost a John Woo movie, it has traits of a Mission Impossible movie, but it's not. M:I 2 is a very silly, cartoon-ie, over-the-top action flick. But it can't really be enjoyed as a dumb action flick because it's very slow and unevenly paced, which makes it hard for me to turn my brain off and enjoy it for what it is. Let's talk abut the romance, Tom Cruise and Thandie Newton have no chemistry in this movie, there's a foundation for a good romance but it's partly ruined by the fact that Ethan Hunt is a completely different character in this film. In the other four films, Ethan Hunt is portrayed as a human being, with flaws and weaknesses, a character that is relate-able due in large part to the amount of beatings he takes, both physically and emotionally. But M:I 2 gives him more of James Bond personality, which is really weird when you watch the series back-to-back and you see Ethan Hunt have an established personality and then be given a completely different personality only to go right back to his normal personality in future Mission: Impossible films. The same can pretty much be said for Luther Stickel. But I still think there are good qualities about M:I 2 that people over-look. For one there are some very good action sequences in the film, even though they could have been incorporated in the film a bit better, there are some very well-done action scenes, the knife fight near the end of the film was particularly intense. And for as cartoonie as he sometimes was, I thought Dougary Scott was a pretty decent villain, someone who had a personal connection with Ethan Hunt and a white hot anger towards him. Not to mention, Tom Cruise's hair is a masterpiece.

4. Mission: Impossible

Just because it's the second lowest ranked film on this list that doesn't mean I don't think it's a great film. The very first Mission: Impossible remains to be a very suspenseful entry in the series, and Brian DePalma does an excellent job of building up tension in several scenes including the iconic breaking into Langly scene. The film has a nice even pace, although not quite as much as the other three films on this list, and the music ques are very well used. The film also established Ethan Hunt as a much different type of spy character by having him be a more vulnerable and human hero. The film is often criticized as being overly complicated although I myself never ran into that problem, I always knew what was going on in the story and nothing ever went over my head. I actually watched this film twice in the couple of months before Rogue Nation's release. My issues with the film are pretty few and far between but I feel are still worth mentioning, for one it must be said how absolutely dated the film's portrayal of the internet is, although there's really nothing they could've done to fix that problem. I also found the handling of Jean Reno's character to be a little too convenient, Ethan gets the idea of hiring him from the Disavowed list and he also just so happens to be the villain's accomplice. I also found that while the reveal of the villain was well-done, I found the villain's motivations and actions to be questionable at best. But I still think it's a very entertaining and suspenseful film that also makes the audience think.

3. Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol

Ghost Protocol is extremely entertaining and re-watchable, and much like the other films in the series (except for 2) it's very well-paced, every scene transitions into the next pretty well and it's always keeping the plot rolling, which is something I really like about the series in general. An interesting part of the film is the amount of focus put on the members of Ethan Hunt's team, even though there were some team aspects in the previous three entries, the focus was mostly on Hunt, but the film actually devotes a lot of time to the rest of the cast and because of that they were able to expand the story more and have more things going on, particularly during the climax of the film in which Ethan Hunt goes to take down the bad guy and his team is helping him stop the missile, it makes the climax more suspenseful, and overall makes the whole movie more suspenseful. However Ghost Protocol sorely lacks a good villain, but more than that, it lacks a memorable villain. For all his faults Dougary Scott was at least a memorable antagonist. I can't even complain about Ghost Protocol's villain because I don't remember anything about him, and I watched the film two days ago. But the film is still very suspenseful and entertaining, with a good cast to boot.

2. Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation

Before you continue reading any further, I just want to let you know that there are some spoilers for Rogue Nation in this synopsis, I know it seems a bit unfair since the film is only a day old but I decided I wanted to talk about it in detail. So if you want the short version of this synopsis, GO SEE IT! The most recent outing in the series is easily one of it's best, Christopher McQuarrie wrote and directed and he's showed himself to be an excellent action director, the action is smooth and easy to follow, and of course much like many of the directors before him McQuarrie is able to build great tension throughout most of the film. But what really makes this film great is the characters, not just Ethan Hunt but the rest of his team as well. As much as people praise Ghost Protocol for it's focus on the team aspect as far as I'm concerned Rogue Nation completely blows it out of the water in that regard. Not only is there a focus on the team but Ethan Hunt has an established history with all of his teammates, both he and the audience knows who these character's are, which makes their relationship more meaningful when one of them is in danger you get emotionally invested because you know the characters and thus it makes their friendship and the lengths their willing to go to more believable. I also felt the character of Ilsa Faust was very well handled how the film always kept you guessing where her loyalties lied. Another thing I really loved about the film was the intellectual battle between Ethan Hunt and Lane, even though I thought Philip Seymour Hoffman was a better villain overall, the conflict between the two of them was fascinating. Their battle played out very much like a chess match with both of them trying to outwit the other, it made for a very interesting battle. But it also made the films climax less exciting, just like the ending of a chess match, it's anticlimactic and leaves the audience wanting more. It lacked the emotionally intensity of Mission Impossible 3, and the nail-biting tension of Ghost Protocol, but hey, they didn't kill off the main villain so maybe we'll get to see this character again. Rogue Nation seems to hit the perfect balance of action, drama, humor, character building, and story pacing. But my favorite film in the series is still...

1. Mission: Impossible III

As much as I loved Rogue Nation, M:I 3 remains my favorite film of the bunch, because it has something the other films lack, emotion. It tells a personal story of Ethan Hunt with a lot of emotion, something we don't see in other Mission: Impossible films. We see Ethan Hunt as a man with something he cares about, something he has to lose, and the film does a good job of putting you in his mind-set, and the use of shaky-cam in many scenes conveys his constant feeling of panic and distress. But M:I 3 wouldn't be the film it is without Tom Cruise, who I think gives his best performance in the entire series, he does a great job of portraying the many emotions his character is feeling. Because of this, Mission: Impossible 3 is the most emotionally intense film in the series, and there's a real reason to get invested in the story. M:I 3 is a true edge-of-your-seat action thriller, but there's also a strong emotional core and great character development for Ethan Hunt, we also get more of the friendship between him and Luther Stickel. Not to mention the great villain played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, the best villain of the series by a mile. He was Ethan Hunt's most dangerous enemy, was a great on screen presence, and of course was played to perfection by the late great Philip Seymour Hoffman. M:I 3 also has some of my favorite moments of the series, some of the scenes that come to mind are; the attack on the bridge, stealing the rabbit's foot, the shanghai climax, and the intense opening scene. It's the most underrated Mission: Impossible film, in my opinion, and one of the most underrated films period. It's the lowest grossing film in the series to date, and even now M:I 3 would probably land in the middle or near the bottom of most people's ranking of the series. I've seen this film multiple times and every time I'm thoroughly riveted every time I see it, it grabs you and doesn't let you go, and I honestly can't think of anything I don't like about the film. Everything from it's cast, to it's action, to it's pace, to it's development of Ethan Hunt. I love just about everything about the film, and it remains my choice for the top film of the series.

So what are your thoughts? Tell me how you would rank these films in the comments below.

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