With the release and massive success of Mission: Impossible – Fallout (it had the highest grossing opening weekend in franchise history), Ethan Hunt is back in the public eye, which is great news for dads, who love Ethan Hunt with a fury usually reserved for beers that come in 30-packs.
Which got us thinking—which of the Mission: Impossible films are truly king in the eyes of dads? So we got to ranking.
6: Mission: Impossible 2 (2000, 57% on Rotten Tomatoes)
The second installment to the franchise was a pretty big failure by all accounts. This was a movie that famously decided to nix a speaking scene that would establish character connections, and instead stuck a car chase in there. It had its fun moments, but at the end of the day it was just trying too hard to be an action movie, when really the Mission Impossible films work best on suspense and intrigue.
5: Mission: Impossible 3 (2006, 70% on Rotten Tomatoes)
After the failure of Mission Impossible 2, it took another six years for the franchise to get off the ground. But thankfully they decided to take the third film in the series, hand it over to a young television director by the name of J.J. Abrams, and stuck Oscar-winner Phillip Seymour Hoffman as the most terrifying villain of all the M:I films. The fact that this is only fifth on the list just shows how strong the franchise stayed after this great reboot.
4: Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol (2011, 93% on Rotten Tomatoes)
Ghost Protocol famously had the scene where Cruise (as Ethan Hunt) climbed the Burj Khalifa, a.k.a. the tallest building in the world. But it also less famously tried to put a lot of focus on Jeremy Renner (in the hopes that he could become the face of the franchise) which takes away from Ethan Hunt just a little bit. That said, it’s still a great dad-approved film, directed by Brad Bird of The Incredibles fame.
3: Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation (2015, 93% on Rotten Tomatoes)
Rogue Nation brought us the Syndicate, which remains the shadowy ruthless organization that injects real fear and stakes into the series. It also introduces Ilsa, who finally gives some romantic chemistry for Hunt after the relatively un-personal “save the world, get the job done” vibe of Ghost Protocol. Though dads don’t really care about that, they’d just ask their sons, “Hey, she’s pretty hot, don’t you think?”
2: Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018, 97% on Rotten Tomatoes)
The latest Mission: Impossible is also one of the best. Dubbed by one dad as the film that “might’ve ruined all other action movies,” the latest film is on pace to be the highest grossing in the franchise, and it also has the highest critic and audience score of all the films. If you haven’t seen it yet, get on it—this one comes very heavily dad approved. But as good as it is, nothing can really beat the original. Which is why our top spot goes to…
1: Mission: Impossible (1996, 63% on Rotten Tomatoes)
Don’t let the Rotten Tomatoes score fool you, this movie aged like a fine wine. Nothing has yet to top the classic “breaking into Langley” wire scene and nothing likely will.
This didn’t have the crazy stunts we’ve come to love from the franchise, but it was thrilling nonetheless. Watching it again, it stands up almost better than it did in the 90s. Plus, dads remember watching it in theaters back in the day, so it automatically gets nostalgia points. So, apologies to the other amazing films in the series (and, we guess, to Mission: Impossible 2), but the original takes home the crown.