Hayley Atwell and Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One

Catch Up on the ‘Mission: Impossible’ Franchise With Our Watch Guide

With (at least) one more film on the way, the Tom Cruise-led Mission: Impossible franchise is showing no signs of fatigue. With each successive entry, the music has remained just as iconic, the stunts have become more incredible, and the characters increasingly compelling. Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One has proven to be a worthy successor to Mission: Impossible – Fallout, and there is a lot of fun to be had if you decide to (re)watch the franchise from the very beginning. Here’s how to watch all Mission: Impossible movies released so far, in order.

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Mission: Impossible (1996)

Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt, suspended from a wire in the first Mission: Impossible movie
(Paramount Pictures)

The one that started it all. Mission: Impossible, based on the hit television series of the same name (which originally ran on TV from 1966-1973), introduced Tom Cruise as action hero Ethan Hunt, an American intelligence agent who must prove his innocence when framed for the inexplicable deaths of several members of his IMF (Impossible Mission Force) team. Directed by Brian De Palma, the first installment in the series also introduces franchise mainstay Ving Rhames as Luther.

Mission: Impossible II (2000)

Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt in Mission: Impossible II
(Paramount Pictures)

In the first Mission: Impossible sequel, Ethan Hunt is sent to Sydney to recover and destroy a deadly genetically modified disease called “Chimera,” which was stolen by a rogue IMF agent (Dougray Scott) after they murdered the scientist who created it. Thandiwe Newton plays a professional thief who helps Ethan on his mission in the second M:I movie, directed by John Woo.

Mission: Impossible III (2006)

Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt in MIssion: Impossible III, pointing a gun up at the sky with a helicopter and exploding vehicle in the background.
(Paramount Pictures)

Mission: Impossible III introduced Ethan Hunt’s fiancé, Julia (Michelle Monaghan), who is unaware of Ethan’s real job: training IMF recruits after retiring from fieldwork. However, Hunt is forced back into active duty when the agency comes into contact with a dangerous and vindictive arms dealer (the late Philip Seymour Hoffman), who subsequently threatens Ethan’s life and kidnaps Julia. Directed by J.J. Abrams, the third M:I also stars Maggie Q, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Billy Crudup, Keri Russell, and Simon Pegg—who makes his franchise debut as Benji.

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011)

Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt climbing the Burj Khalifa in Dubai in Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol
(Paramount Pictures)

In Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Ethan Hunt and his team (which includes Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, and Paula Patton) go rogue to clear the IMF’s name after it is shut down in relation to a bombing attempt on the Kremlin. Though the Mission: Impossible franchise had some incredible stunt sequences prior to the fourth installment, this is where Cruise really started going for it: who can forget him climbing the Burj Khalifa in Dubai with nothing but a pair of high-tech gloves? Brad Bird (The Iron Giant) directed Ghost Protocol, which also features Léa Seydoux as an assassin.

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015)

Rebecca Ferguson as Ilsa Faust and Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt in Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation
(Paramount Pictures)

The fifth film in the Mission: Impossible franchise and the first to be directed by Christopher McQuarrie, Rogue Nation sees Ethan Hunt and his team take on their most difficult mission yet: taking down an international rogue organization every bit as skilled and elusive as they are—an organization intent on destroying the IMF and led by an unhinged villain (Sean Harris). Rogue Nation introduces Rebecca Ferguson’s Ilsa Faust to the mix with a daring escape scene and an incredible sequence set in the Vienna State Opera.

Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018)

Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt hanging from a helicopter in Mission: Impossible - Fallout
(Paramount Pictures)

Mission: Impossible – Fallout features not only one of Tom Cruise’s most dangerous stunts ever but also Henry Cavill’s now iconic mustache and that reloading thing he did with his arms. This is perhaps the tensest and most complicated film in the franchise, as the remnants of the Syndicate (the organization the IMF hunted in Rogue Nation) have reformed into a group known as the Apostles, who are intent on obtaining three plutonium cores. Familiar faces are joined this time by Vanessa Kirby’s mysterious character, the White Widow—a role she reprised in the franchise’s next installment.

Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One (2023)

Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, Tom Cruise and Rebecca Ferguson in Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One
(Paramount Pictures)

Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One sees Ethan and his team—including Luther, Benji, and Ilsa—fight to get their hands on the only key that can disable a rogue AI known as “The Entity.” Joining Ethan and the gang is Grace (Hayley Atwell), a talented thief unwittingly embroiled in The Entity’s world-threatening schemes. Hunting Ethan is Gabriel (Esai Morales), a mysterious villain from his past, and an assassin known as Paris (Pom Klementieff). Dead Reckoning Part One also sees the return of Henry Czerny’s Eugene Kittridge, a familiar face fans will recognize from the very first Mission: Impossible movie.

Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part Two (2024)

Though not much is currently known about Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part Two, it is clear that Hunt will be hoping to shut down “The Entity” once and for all. We also know that Ted Lasso‘s Hannah Waddingham has officially joined the cast list and that the movie is slated for release in June 2024. Reportedly, Dead Reckoning Part Two is set to be a send-off for Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt and the Mission: Impossible franchise at large. If that turns out to be true, we’re certain that McQuarrie and Cruise will produce an undeniably spectacular finale for an incredibly memorable action franchise.

(featured image: Paramount Pictures)


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El Kuiper
El (she/her) is The Mary Sue's U.K. editor and has been working as a freelance entertainment journalist for over two years, ever since she completed her Ph.D. in Creative Writing. El's primary focus is television and movie coverage for The Mary Sue, including British TV (she's seen every episode of Midsomer Murders ever made) and franchises like Marvel and Pokémon. As much as she enjoys analyzing other people's stories, her biggest dream is to one day publish an original fantasy novel of her own.