Every Mission: Impossible Film Ranked and Where to Stream Them

There’s just something about spy movies, isn’t there? Maybe it's the numerous plot twists, the incredible fight scenes, the constant betrayals, or the villains’ over-the-top plan for world domination. Whatever the reason, spy movies are one of the most popular action genres out there (hence why they’re still going strong at 26 James Bond movies).

Every Mission: Impossible Film Ranked and Where to Stream Them

Few movie series can really rival the success of 007 as well as the Mission: Impossible movies have in the past. (One can even make a serious argument that Mission: Impossible’s theme song is as widely known and synonymous with the spy genre as James Bond’s iconic theme is.) However, unlike the Bond franchise, which some might consider to have its best days behind it, Mission: Impossible seems only to get better and better with each new movie it releases.

With new entries in the hit spy franchise planned for the future, we thought it would be a good idea to look back at every Mission: Impossible film thus far and rank them from worst to best, as well as provide information about where you’re currently able to stream them.

Every Mission: Impossible Film

Mission: Impossible 2

Famed Chinese action director John Woo may have bitten off more than he can chew with this one. M:I-2 follows everyone’s favorite Impossible Missions Force agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) who is tasked with finding a deadly biological weapon before it falls into a rogue IMF agent Sean Ambrose’s (Dougray Scott) hands. Along the way, Hunt encounters Ambrose’s ex-girlfriend, a jewel thief (Thandiwe Newton) who Hunt soon develops feelings for, and who agrees to assist Hunt on his mission.

M:I-2 has its fair share of Woo’s signature action sequences (such as its fantastic opening cliffhanger scene or the motorcycle chase between Cruise and Scott), but the movie falls flat in a lot of places. The movie’s weak villain, lackluster character development, and endless action for action’s sake make M:I-2 easily the weakest of the Mission: Impossible movies.

Currently streaming on Paramount+

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Mission: Impossible

The one that started it all, Mission: Impossible was responsible for breaking the spy movie away from the James Bond movies that had dominated the genre for years, with legendary director Brian De Palma crafting a tense, fun, exciting thriller that successfully revitalized the hit ‘60s TV show. Mission: Impossible follows IMF agent Ethan Hunt, who goes rogue after being framed for the deaths of his team and attempts to find the person responsible.

The first entry in the new Mission: Impossible series offers a great mystery, a fantastic plot twist, and some amazing action sequences — including the now iconic image of Cruise dangling over an alarm-triggered floor while a drop of sweat threatens to alert everyone of his presence — all of which helped establish the franchise as a fresh alternative to the Bond movies. For fans of the original series, Mission: Impossible also includes a clever continuation of the classic spy series rather than rebooting it outright, making it one of the most unique spiritual successors in pop culture.

Currently streaming on Paramount+

Mission Impossible III

Mission: Impossible III

The third entry in the Mission: Impossible series passed to a then-largely unknown director named JJ Abrams in his directorial feature debut. Fresh off the success of his earlier television work with Alias and Lost, Abrams’ debut film was a smash hit, with the young director crafting a tight narrative and brilliantly developing Cruise’s iconic character.

After retiring from fieldwork, Ethan Hunt rejoins the action when an elusive arms dealer (Philip Seymour Hoffman) threatens Hunt and Hunt’s fiancee, Julia (Michelle Monaghan) in his quest to find a mysterious weapon known only as the “Rabbit’s foot.” M:I-III boasts a strong entry in the Mission: Impossible franchise, offering arguably the series’ greatest villain thus far. It’s a fun, entertaining movie, and arguably the best of the original three M:I films.

Currently streaming on Paramount+

Mission Impossible Rogue Nation

Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation

The first Mission: Impossible entry from director Christopher McQuarrie (he would go on to make Mission: Impossible–Fallout and is scheduled to direct the next two future installments in the series), Mission: Impossible–Rogue Nation is a fast-paced, wonderfully suspenseful action movie that could rival the distinction as being the best M:I movie–although between Ghost Protocol and Fallout, the competition is tough.

In the series’ fifth movie, Ethan Hunt goes on the run from the CIA after the IMF’s disbandment, trying to find evidence that proves the existence of the Syndicate, a secret organization composed of rogue field agents from spy agencies across the globe. Rogue Nation has plenty of strong points, including the chemistry between the movie’s co-stars (most especially Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Alec Baldwin, and Ving Rhames), and is notable for also establishing Rebecca Ferguson as a breakout star. Like every great spy movie, Rogue Nation is a fantastically entertaining and engaging film that doesn’t take itself too seriously, allowing for an easy, endlessly enjoyable watch.

Currently streaming on Paramount+

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Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol

The first of three Mission: Impossible movies that won critical acclaim from fans and critics alike, ushering in a new era for the franchise, Ghost Protocol is an amazingly well-done movie, helping revolutionize the spy genre. After the Kremlin is bombed by a nuclear terrorist, Hunt and his IMF team are named responsible and disavowed by the US, leaving them on their own to find the person responsible in order to clear their names.

If that plot sounds fairly similar to the original Mission: Impossible, don’t be fooled — Ghost Protocol is a vast improvement upon the first three entries in the series, featuring incredibly tense action scenes, such as Cruise’s character scaling the side of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Director Brad Bird’s first live-action movie (he’d previously directed the popular animated films The Iron Giant and The Incredibles), Ghost Protocol is a must-watch for spy fans, and will leave nearly every viewer in awe at the visuals and intense action scenes.

Currently streaming on Hulu

Mission Impossible Fallout

Mission: Impossible — Fallout

The most recent of the Mission: Impossible movies, and very possibly the best, Mission: Impossible–Fallout can be an easy contender for one of the greatest action movies in recent history. Director Christopher McQuarrie’s second Mission: Impossible movie and the sixth in the series, Fallout follows Ethan Hunt and his team as they try to recover missing plutonium stolen by a terrorist group formed from the remnants of Rogue Nation’s Syndicate, now known as the Apostles. Helping him along the way are some old allies from Hunt’s past as well as new ones, all of whom race against time to recover the plutonium before it’s too late.

Featuring a fantastic ensemble cast that includes Cruise, Rhames, Pegg, Baldwin, and Ferguson, as well as franchise newcomers Henry Cavill, Vanessa Kirby, and Angela Bassett, Fallout was praised for virtually everything–from its indelible action, acting, direction, screenplay, and soundtrack to its jaw-dropping stunts and cinematography, making this movie the crown jewel of the franchise, and the best Mission: Impossible to date.

Currently streaming on Paramount+

Final Thoughts

There’s so much to love about a good spy movie. There’s the awesome action scenes, the secret spy organizations, the fantastic villains and their plans for conquering the world, the comedic sidekicks, the steamy romantic interests, the cool soundtracks, the plot twists, the betrayals, and the suspense that is palpable in scene after scene.

When it comes to spy movies, all of these characteristics and more are evident in the Mission: Impossible films, a franchise that has come ridiculously far from its original series run in the late 1960s. Over the years, the Mission: Impossible movies have only grown, becoming one of the most iconic spy movie franchises in the industry, and crafting some of the most popular and beloved action movies of all time.

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Richard Chachowski is a freelance writer based in New Jersey. He loves reading, his dog Tootsie, and pretty much every movie to ever exist (especially Star Wars).