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Your guide to watching the ‘Mission Impossible’ films in chronological order

Who doesn’t love the Mission: Impossible movies? We are just two months away from the upcoming Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning Part One aka Mission Impossible 7, making it the perfect time to host a movie night and binge-watch all of the movies of the action thriller franchise.

For the unaware, MI 7 is said to be the first film in the two-part conclusion of Tom Cruise’s career as secret agent Ethan Hunt. The film will release in theatres on July 12, 2023, with the second part (MI 8) expected to hit theatres on June 28, 2024.

If you are new to Ethan Hunt’s spy world and are looking to dive into the Mission Impossible movies to catch up with the thrilling franchise before the release of Mission Impossible 7, there’s only one way to go about it – in chronological order. After all, as the franchise has managed to captivate audiences for decades with its high-stakes missions, jaw-dropping stunts and Cruise’s charismatic portrayal, watching the films in chronological order makes sense.

So, from Mission: Impossible to Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, here is the correct chronological order of watching the franchise.

A guide to watching the ‘Mission: Impossible’ movies in chronological order

Mission: Impossible (1996)

Mission Impossible Chronological Order
Image credit: IMDb

Directed by Brian De Palma, the first Mission: Impossible film introduces us to Tom Cruise’s charismatic Ethan Hunt, a skilled secret agent working for the Impossible Missions Force (IMF). In the first film, Ethan Hunt is framed for the murders of his fellow agents during a mission in Prague. As sets out to clear his name and uncover the true culprits behind the murders, he assembles a team of skilled individuals to assist him in his endeavour, including computer expert Luther Stickell, pilot Franz Krieger and infiltrator Claire Phelps.

The film takes various twists and turns as the secret agent also uncovers a larger conspiracy involving a mole within the IMF. He must navigate a web of double-crosses and dangerous situations to expose the truth and prevent the theft of the NOC List, a classified document containing vital information about covert agents around the world.

IMDb rating: 7.1/10
Rotten Tomatoes score: 66%

Mission: Impossible 2 (2000)

Mission Impossible Chronological Order
Image credit: IMDb

The second instalment in the franchise, Mission: Impossible 2 is also the least acclaimed Mission Impossible film of all. Released in 2000, the movie was directed by John Woo and had Cruise once again stepping in the shoes of Ethan Hunt. This time around, Hunt is assigned to recruit a skilled thief named Nyah Nordoff-Hall to help him retrieve a deadly virus known as Chimera. The virus, created by rogue IMF agent Sean Ambrose, has the potential to cause a global pandemic if it falls into the wrong hands. As both agents embark on their mission, they also find themselves caught in a dangerous love triangle with Ambrose.

IMDb rating: 6.1/10
Rotten Tomatoes score: 56%

Mission: Impossible 3 (2006)

Mission Impossible Chronological Order
Image credit: IMDb

Mission: Impossible 3 came out in 2006 and marked the feature-film directorial debut of J.J. Abrams, who also co-wrote the screenplay. In this instalment, Ethan Hunt has retired from fieldwork and is engaged to a nurse named Julia Meade. However, his peaceful life is disrupted when he learns that a dangerous arms dealer has kidnapped one of his former trainees. He is then forced to come out of retirement to rescue his captured protégé with the help of a stellar team of IMF agents. Mission: Impossible 3 is known for its thrilling action sequences, including a spectacular bridge attack and a climactic showdown in Shanghai.

IMDb rating: 6.9/10
Rotten Tomatoes score: 71%

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011)

Mission Impossible Chronological Order
Image credit: IMDb

Released in 2011 and directed by Brad Bird, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is the fourth film in the franchise. The movie focuses on Ethan Hunt and his team as they find themselves being implicated in a terrorist bombing at the Kremlin in Moscow. As a result, the IMF is disavowed by the U.S. Government, though the team continues to work with no official support or backup.

Determined to clear their names and prevent a global catastrophe, Hunt and his team, which includes Jane Carter, Benji Dunn and William Brandt, embark on a high-stakes mission to track down Kurt Hendricks, a nuclear extremist who plans to provoke a global war using stolen Russian nuclear codes. The team travels to various locations, including Dubai and Mumbai, in their pursuit of Hendricks and faces numerous challenges.

The film, which is considered to be one of the best of the franchise, is also known for its thrilling action sequences including the iconic scene where Ethan Hunt climbs the exterior of the Burj Khalifa.

IMDb rating: 7.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes score: 93%

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015)

Mission Impossible Chronological Order
Image credit: IMDb

Released in 2015, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation is the fifth instalment in the franchise and the first to be directed by Christopher McQuarrie. In Rogue Nation, the IMF is facing a highly skilled and dangerous organisation known as the Syndicate. This deadly organisation is composed of rogue agents from various intelligence agencies and operates in secret, destabilising governments and carrying out covert operations around the world. As the IMF faces disbandment, Ethan Hunt goes rogue to track down the Syndicate and prove its existence. Hunt recruits his loyal team, including Benji Dunn, Luther Stickell and William Brandt, along with British agent Ilsa Faust to tackle the Syndicate.

The film, which was a critical and commercial success, managed to deliver some intense and visually impressive action set-pieces ranging from high-speed motorcycle chases to a dramatic underwater sequence.

IMDb rating: 7.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes score: 94%

Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018)

Image credit: IMDb

Mission: Impossible – Fallout is the sixth and most recent entry to the franchise. Released in 2018, it was once again directed by McQuarrie. In Fallout, Ethan Hunt and his team find themselves facing the consequences of a failed mission where they had to recover three stolen plutonium cores. Due to their failure, the cores have fallen into the hands of the Apostles – a dangerous terrorist group led by the menacing John Lark. As the Apostles plan to use the plutonium cores to create a series of devastating nuclear attacks, it’s once again up to Ethan to save the world.

Mission: Impossible – Fallout isn’t just the most acclaimed film in the franchise, but is also considered to be one of the best films of its genre. It takes the audience on a global adventure, spanning from Paris and London to Kashmir, as Hunt and his team partake in jaw-dropping stunts and intense action sequences including thrilling car chases, high-altitude jumps and intense hand-to-hand combat.

IMDb rating: 7.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 97%

(Hero and feature image credit: Courtesy IMDb/Mission: Impossible)

This story first appeared here

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Question: What is the correct order of watching the Mission: Impossible movies?

Answer: If you are planning on watching the Mission: Impossible franchise chronologically or in release order, you have to start with Mission: Impossible, followed by Mission: Impossible 2, Mission: Impossible 3, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation, and finally, Mission: Impossible - Fallout.

Question: Is it necessary to watch Mission: Impossible in order?

Answer: Yes, it is necessary to watch the Mission: Impossible films in chronological order as some of the films are connected with each other and have overlapping characters.

Question: Which is the best Mission: Impossible movie according to IMDb?

Answer: According to IMDb ratings, Mission: Impossible - Fallout is the best movie in the franchise. It has an IMDb rating of 7.7.

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