Warning: This list includes the action sequences of ‘Fallout.’ Those are spoilers.
There have been few series as consistently entertaining as Mission: Impossible. What began two decades ago is tour de force of insane stunts, lovable sidekicks, and a man who laughs at logic. Tom Cruise has been the center that the entire franchise revolves around. His insanity has provided some of the best motion picture stunts in town.
With six films and countless scenes to choose from, it almost becomes an exercise in futility to try to rank them all. The key word there is almost. Taking what I believe are the most memorable stunts/action scenes in the franchise and ranking them has a been an undertaking. There aren’t scenes here that involve our titular hero Ethan Hunt throwing a punch and walking away. The scenes here run the gauntlet from truly memorable sequences to iconic moments in the Mission: Impossible franchise.
28. Car Chase Dancing
Ethan Hunt is trying to recruit Nyah Nordoff-Hall (Thandie Newton), a professional thief who isn’t very good at her job. After a brief introduction at a mansion in Spain, the Hunt and Nordoff engage in a car chase. She insists that if she is going to work with Hunt, he’ll have to catch her.
This a glorious car commercial for Audi and Lamborghini. Both of them face head-on collisions, almost flying off the cliff, and some stunning scenery that all coincides with them falling for each other and one of the series few love scenes. This is when Mission: Impossible was trying to be Bond. On top of that, there is this incredibly cheesy part of the chase when the cars circle each other that looks like a mating dance.
27. Kremlin Destruction
Benji and Ethan are trying to obtain some documents from the Kremlin.
The actual destruction of the Kremlin isn’t as impressive as the trick inside. They need to trick a guard to get down a hallway. They prop up a screen and project what the hallway should look like and then push the image down the hallway. It isn’t a ton of action, but it is a rather clever sequence.
26. Ethan Vs Syndicate
Ethan Hunt is in trouble once again as he gets captured by the evil Syndicate.
This sequence starts with a nice wrinkle on the Mission: Impossible message. That message leads to Hunt’s capture and sequence that introduces Rebecca Ferguson to the franchise. Some hand-to-hand combat and a quick escape are the extent of this scene.
25. Jeremy Renner Time
Jeremy Renner has to disable a satellite before the enemy can use it to shoot a nuclear warhead.
This sequence is fun because it shows what it would look like if Renner took over the Mission: Impossible franchise. The answer ends up being not that memorable. Benji has given William Brandt (Renner) a magnetic suit that will allow him to jump down a fan shaft in a very similar fashion to how Cruise did the famous Wire Stunt in the original M:I.
24. Cruise Vs Hoffman
The only way Philip Seymour Hoffman could take on Tom Cruise one-on-one is if Cruise had an implant distributing his abilities. Luckily, this is exactly what is going on as Hoffman’s Owen Davian wallops Cruise.
There isn’t much more going on here as Hoffman wipes the floor with Cruise. It is just an excellent piece of acting from Hoffman and there is a sense that we’ve reached the end for Mr. Hunt. This wouldn’t be Mission: Impossible if Hunt actually lost though.
After messing up the exchange of documents at the Burj Khalifa, Hunt chases after the villain through a violent sandstorm.
This action sequence is best remembered by what you can’t see. Whoever decided it would be cool to film in a sandstorm really didn’t think it through. It only becomes interesting once Cruise and the villain find vehicles and send them careening into each other.
22. Rescue the Arms Dealer
Ethan Hunt must rescue The White Widow before she is taken out.
This action sequence becomes a footnote to the great action of the Bathroom Brawl, but there is some fun gunplay here. Also, it is the only scene in the movie where we get to see The White Widow (Vanessa Kirby) showcase her own combat abilities.
21. Cruise Climbing
Agent Hunt doesn’t tell the IMF that he has taken a vacation. If he did, he wouldn’t be able to take one. On his free time, Hunt likes climbing rock ledges without safety gear. An adrenaline junkie for sure.
Tom Cruise insisted on shooting the sequence wearing only a thin safety cable and he needed this epic introduction to feel authentic. Throughout the Mission: Impossible franchise, Cruise has always pushed the envelope when it comes to stunts. Even his director John Woo didn’t want him to do the stunt.