It’s been over 25 years since Tom Cruise first played secret agent Ethan Hunt in 1996’s Mission: ImpossibleFor a film based on a long-dead television show, the M:I franchise has shown remarkable staying power — and so has Cruise. To put it into perspective, consider this: In the 25 years after the first James Bond movie, Dr. No, four different men played James Bond. By the time a quarter century had passed, the first Bond, Sean Connery, had long since retired as the character; that was around the time he played Indiana Jones’ bumbling father in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. 

25 years later, Tom Cruise is still playing Ethan Hunt, in the first part of Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning.

Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning - Part One

READ MORE: All the Outdated Technology in the First Mission: Impossible

There has been some rumblings that Dead Reckoning Part One and Two will conclude the franchise. Tom Cruise himself has said he wants to keep playing Ethan Hunt until he’s 80. Either way, Dead Reckoning makes for a perfect time to take stock of 25+-year history of the series as a whole. The franchise has evolved quite a lot of over the last quarter century, from a twisty spy thriller, to an operating bullet ballet, to a dramedy about a spy trying to achieve the proper work-life balance, then totally shifting again into a showcase for incredible practical special effects.

As a result, comparing Mission: Impossibles is a bit like comparing apples and oranges that happened to look like Tom Cruise and enjoy hanging off the sides of buildings or airplanes. Nonetheless, I did my best to rank the entire franchise from the worst to the best.

Every Mission: Impossible Movie, Ranked From Worst to Best

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