6. Mission: Impossible II (2000)
John Woo’s Mission: Impossible film featured too many slow-motion doves to be taken seriously, and it is the most dated (at least visually) of any of the MI movies yet put to screen, but what it lacks in modern sensibilities and real-time action scenes it more than makes up for with creativity. Mission: Impossible II features many of the hallmarks of Brian De Palma’s original film, while also embracing a style of action that is at least unique if not entirely compelling.
This Mission: Impossible entry is probably best remembered for its unnecessary use of slow motion, for Tom Cruise’s turn-of-the-century bowl haircut (also sported in the likes of Magnolia, The Last Samurai and Vanilla Sky), and for the Prime of His Career A-list superstar risking his life to hang over the edge of a cliff without a harness or even permission from the studio.
As a time capsule of the era it almost works, and in terms of visual style and action aesthetic Mission: Impossible II is at least a unique blockbuster-type movie (and certainly a noteworthy standalone presentation in the MI franchise). It’s far from perfect, and it is certainly a class below the films to come on this list, but there are things to enjoy here.
5. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011)
Despite the recent bankability of the Mission: Impossible franchise, Paramount’s box office powerhouse has often been a place for up-and-coming directors to find their feet in the world of big-budget extravaganza. First-time live-action director Brad Bird (The Iron Giant; The Incredibles; Ratatouille) proved himself to be a gem; a filmmaker who re-established the very best aspects of the franchise in an undoubted critical and audience hit filled to the brim with some of the very best action ever put to screen.
The most memorable moment of Ghost Protocol is the Burj Khalifa climbing sequence in which Tom Cruise hangs from the side of the world’s tallest building in a number of eye-popping shots. He swings from the side of the building, runs down the building, and steadily turns to look off into the distance at the frankly dizzying height of 130 metres. In being the focus of these death-defying moments, Cruise helped to redirect the Mission: Impossible franchise towards being a fully-fledged action franchise and gained the reputation he currently holds as being a daredevil ready to give his soul for our enjoyment.
In Ghost Protocol, the Mission: Impossible franchise offered everything we’ve come to expect from a Tom Cruise film while showing us things we’d never seen before, and it created one of the most fun cinema experiences of its time. While it wasn’t as rapid as some of the entries to come, and it did forgo some of the thriller inspirations Brian De Palma instilled in the franchise’s first iteration, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol ignited new interest in the franchise as a world-leading action powerhouse and helped to assert Mission: Impossible as one of the most thrilling series of movies currently on the market.
Recommended for you: Every James Bond 007 Movie Ranked