Mission Impossible Movies In Order: The Complete Ethan Hunt Movie Guide

Mission Impossible Movies In Order: The Complete Ethan Hunt Movie Guide

Mission Impossible has become one of the biggest franchises on the planet, and Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt, almost as big as a James Bond. With a lot of movies and new ones in the work, you might be wondering what is the best way to watch Mission Impossible movies in order. Well, this article will help you in that.

When it comes to the spy business, only a few can do it better than Ethan Hunt. Surprisingly, in each movie, the character portrayed by legendary actor Tom Cruise has proven to be the spymaster. And he keeps us on our toes as he chases terrible guys across our screens.

Do we love him? Absolutely, but we love the Mission Impossible movies even more. Since the first Mission Impossible movie aired in 1996, it has been hit after hit. Nevertheless, in each one, Ethan Hunt brings his A-game, making fans fall in love all over again.

How Many Mission Impossible Movies Are There?

So far, there are six movies in the Mission Impossible franchise. The movies were released from 1996 up to 2018. However, some movies took as long as four years after the previous one.

Mission Impossible Watch Order By Release Date

The First Mission Impossible film came out in 1996. Although it is unnecessary to watch the films in chronological order, surprisingly, I found it more entertaining when watched in order.

Nevertheless, here is a list of the Mission Impossible films by release date.

  • Mission Impossible (1996)
  • Mission Impossible 2 (2000)
  • Mission Impossible 3 (2006)
  • Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (2011)
  • Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation (2015)
  • Mission Impossible: Fallout (2018)

Mission Impossible Movies In Chronological Order

In all Mission Impossible Movies, Ethan Hunt, portrayed by Tom Cruise, is a man out of time. His missions “should he choose to accept the…” most certainly place him and everyone who tries to help him in mortal danger. While some survive, some do not; you best believe that Hunt is always alive to tell the tale.

However, Hunt is not one to back down; with incredible technology and the most delicate equipment, the Mission Impossible films have always maintained the edge-of-the-seat quality.

Characteristically Ethan Hunt is arguably one of the most famous spy characters in the leagues of 007, Agent 47, and John Wick. Consequently, he delivers quality acting and that razor-sharp sarcasm and innuendo that make viewers fall in love.

All six Mission Impossible Movies are Blockbusters, so keep reading as I take you on a rundown of the movies in one of the series’s finest spy franchises.

1. Mission Impossible (1996)

Mission Impossible Movies In Order: The Complete Ethan Hunt Movie Guide

The first movie in the highly successful franchise was called Mission Impossible; the film aired in 1996 with a much younger Tom Cruise playing the role of Impossible Missions Force (IMF) agent, Ethan Hunt.

As in the tradition of spy movies, viewers are shown plot twists, turns, and reversals. Additionally, the ever-resourceful IMF uses the latest technology, gadgets, disguises, and unorthodox techniques to accomplish their missions.

Fellow IMF agent Jim Phelps and his wife Claire and Hunt are on a mission in Prague to retrieve classified material. However, things go wrong, and everyone on the team, apart from Hunt and Claire, winds up dead.

Following the unfortunate turn of events, Hunt reaches out to his superiors back at the agency. Interestingly, the Head of the IMF already suspects that  Hunt is the mole responsible for the failed Mission.

As his agency and friends turn on him faster than he can yell “Jack Robinson”, Hunt is left entirely to his own devices. Subsequently, he must ask for the help of an international arms dealer named Max. Also, he asks two disavowed agents of the IMF, Franz Krieger, and Luther Stickell, to help him carry out his Mission.

And the mission “should he choose to accept it” is to retrieve the missing list and return it before the agents’ identities on the list are compromised.  And also to reveal the people who tried to frame him.

Fleeing from government assassins, hiding from trained assassins, breaking into the CIA’s most secure vault. Also clinging to the roof of a speeding train and jumping from skyscrapers, Hunt races desperately against time to complete his Mission.

Will Ethan Hunt succeed in clearing his name, or will he realize that he is a Mission Impossible.

2. Mission Impossible 2 (2000)

Mission Impossible Movies In Order: The Complete Ethan Hunt Movie Guide

Ethan Hunt returns in the second installment of the franchise to another impossible mission. This time, the IMF is on the heels of a genetically modified killer virus of German origin known as Chimera.

A man posing as Ethan Hunt kills an international scientist midair and taken the only cure. But after the man escapes with his cohorts, the genuine Ethan Hunt is summoned by his superiors and asked to take on a mission. Nevertheless, before that, he is asked to recruit international thief Nyah Hall. 

And Hunt’s Mission, should he choose to accept it, is to lead a team of IMF agents into the proverbial Lion’s den. Now,  he has to find and destroy the virus before the terrorist organization releases it into the world. Now, this action would cause a global catastrophe.

It is an otherwise easy mission, but it is made impossible because Hunt is not the only person trying to find the virus. Instead, he is up against a gang of international terrorists headed by a former IMF agent now gone rogue. 

It also doesn’t help that the creator of the virus has been killed and the antidote known as bellerophon stolen by none other than the disavowed agent, Sean Ambrose. However, Ambrose plans to sell Chimera to the highest bidder in exchange for shares in the winner’s company. 

And with the winner’s help, he completes his grand plan of infecting the entire world with the virus. Since the man who engineered the cure, Dr. Nerkhovic, was killed by Ambrose’s cohorts, billions of lives are on the line. 

Hunt, whose team also includes the beautiful Nyah Hall, must send Hall, who is Ambrose’s former lover, undercover to infiltrate Ambrose’s organization. Now she has to find out what she can do to aid Hunt in bringing down Chimera.

However, they do not only have to break into one of the most secure laboratories in the world, jumping off skyscrapers and dodging bullets midair. But Hunt’s Mission is made even more impossible because now he is smitten with the lovely international thief Nyah Hall.

And he must destroy the samples of the disease and find the bellerophon to cure his lover, who is already infected with the deadly disease.

3. Mission Impossible Three (2006)

Mission Impossible Movies In Order: The Complete Ethan Hunt Movie Guide

Ethan Hunt has retired from active service and now works as a trainer for new IMF recruits. As he is no longer in active service, he is also settling down with his fiancée Julia Meade who is blissfully unaware of Hunt’s other life.

However, with the capture of Lindsay Harris, one of his former protégés, IMF director John Musgrave approaches Ethan, and he must take his team and launch a rescue mission. The thing is, Harris was captured while investigating international arms broker Owen Davian.

The team goes to Berlin and manages to rescue Harris; however, Hunt discovers a bomb implanted in her head as they try to escape. Nevertheless, he tries to move quickly, but it explodes before he can disarm it.

Ethan returns home to Julia and the IMF, where he discovers that Lindsay mailed him a postcard before her capture. But using the digital postcard footprint, he tracks down Davian to the Vatican, where the terrorist has gone to acquire a device code-named “the rabbit’s foot”.

Torn by guilt and loss, Ethan Hunt plans a mission to go after Davian without proper authorization. However, before leaving, however, he and Julia have an impromptu wedding at the hospital’s chapel.

Later on, The team infiltrates the Vatican and captures Davian, but he refuses to reveal any information despite rigorous interrogation by Hunt. And just as the convoy is across the Chesapeake Bay, paid mercenaries attack and free Davian. 

 Now, this coordinated attack alerts Hunt that Julia may also be in danger, but before he can rush to the hospital where she works, she has already been kidnapped. Now, it seems to be orchestrated by Davian’s men.

As expected, Davian reaches out to Hunt. He tells him that he is with Julia and instructs him to bring the Rabbit’s foot to him within 48 hours in exchange for  Julia’s life. 

Hunt would have done anything for Julia at this point, but before he could even get his bearings, he was captured by the IMF and taken for interrogation. Musgrave, who is also part of Hunt’s interrogation, discloses to him the location of the Rabbit’s foot and helps him to escape.

Upon his escape from the IMF, Hunt is declared an enemy of the state and placed on Interpol’s most-wanted list. But, unfortunately, that is even the least of Hunt’s problems as his wife’s continued detention and imminent death makes his Mission more impossible.

That notwithstanding, Hunt manages to retrieve the device with the help of his team, who are already in Shanghai waiting for him. Thus, he once again encounters Davian in an attempt to recover his wife. Unfortunately, the encounter ends badly for him as Davian gags him, kills his wife, and leaves him unconscious.

When he comes to, he meets a shocking revelation: Musgrave is the real IMF traitor, and he tells Hunt that Julia is still alive; he also reveals his plans to Ethan. At this point, Ethan, however, manages to knock him unconscious and escape.

Also, he tracks down Julia using Musgrave’s cell phone and kills Davian before arresting Musgrave. With Julia’s level of involvement, Hunt is left with no choice but to explain his IMF involvement to her. So, the Mission is not so impossible after all. And all is well that ends well.

4. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (2011)

Mission Impossible Movies In Order: The Complete Ethan Hunt Movie Guide

Unlike the first and third Mission Impossible films, the fourth film in the franchise has a very straightforward plot. Here, Ethan Hunt is back, and in full, his Mission is to prove his innocence and that of his entire organization, the Impossible Missions Force.

An IMF agent Hanaway is killed in Budapest by an assassin who takes his Russian nuclear launch codes. However the assassin Sabine Moreau intends to give them to an international terrorist code-named Cobalt.

Considering the dire circumstances, Hunt purposefully gets himself incarcerated in prison in Moscow to get information on Cobalt. Finally, he gets access to Bogdan, the information source. But with the help of Hanaway’s handler and some other agents, Hunt can escape with Bogdan.

However, in search of more information on Cobalt, IMF tasked Hunt with infiltrating the Kremlin. During the Mission, the IMF is alerted about a supposed detonation. Unfortunately, the bad news is the Kremlin police have also been alerted. 

Although, Hunt’s team manages to abort the Mission and run for the heels just before a bomb destroys most of the Kremlin. SVR agent Anatoly Sidorov captures Hunt and charges him with destroying the Kremlin.

Despite that setback, Hunt escapes and meets up with the IMF secretary, who tells him that the president has invoked the ghost protocol. At this point, the impossible Missions Force has been blamed for an attack on the Kremlin and disbanded by the United States.

Even worse, the facility has been closed down, and only Hunt’s team is still active. Nevertheless, the secretary instructs Hunt to continue the search for Cobalt and find the real terrorists and clear the IMF.

Things aren’t looking suitable for Hunt, as Sidorov’s forces catch up with him and manage to kill the secretary. However, Hunt rendezvous with his team where they reveal the identity of Cobalt. They uncover that he is known as Kurt Hendricks, a Swedish-born Russian nuclear strategist who plans to start a war between Russia and the U.S. 

In addition to that, they also discover that the Kremlin bombing was Hendricks’s attempt to cover up his theft of a nuclear launch control device. Also, he intends to sell it to Moreau at the Burj Khalifa in exchange for the required launch codes.

It doesn’t take long for them to finally get information that Hendricks is in Mumbai trying to launch a missile to destroy San Francisco’s computer center. However, they move to get there as fast as they can, but it’s too late as Hendricks has already launched the missile.

However, Hunt manages to kill Hendricks and prevent the missile from launching. Not just that, Sidorov also arrives on the scene and realizes that the IMF is indeed innocent in attacks on the Kremlin.

5. Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation (2015)

Mission Impossible Movies In Order: The Complete Ethan Hunt Movie Guide

With the IMF now disbanded, one would think Ethan Hunt’s days of scaling buildings outrunning bullets, and carrying out impossible missions have finally come to an end.

Far from it, because the chief spy is yet on another critical mission is the fifth movie in the franchise. Nevertheless, this time Hunt must trust his guys because the organization he works for is no more.

On the other hand, there is another organization with which Hunt must contend. A group of people cryptically known as “The Syndicate”. Simply put, this Syndicate is a group of highly trained operatives who are keen on establishing a new world order through a series of strategic terrorist attacks.

Hunt is faced with what may become the most dangerous and impossible Mission of his career, and that’s saying something. Now, Hunt gathers his team, including the beautiful Ilsa Faust, who is possibly an undercover member of the Syndicate Hunt is tasked with destroying.

It seems to a bulk of security agencies, including the CIA, that the Syndicate is non-existent, a mere figment of Hunt’s mind. However, after stopping a cargo plane from transporting nerve gas sold to criminals, Hunt is convinced that he is into something. 

However, he gets closer, so that he is captured by the Syndicate in a pawn shop in London. Finally, he confirms that the Syndicate is made up of a group of rogue operatives from various agencies in the world.

Hunt escapes a syndicate torture chamber with the help of Ilsa Faust, former Mi6 operative and now a syndicate member. Nevertheless, he follows a man named Solomon Lane, who is his only lead at the time.

But it would appear that he was out of luck and six months later, not only is he living as a fugitive in Paris,  he is yet to find Lane. Finally, with the arrival of his team Dunn and Faust, Hunt receives new information from Dunn about the working of the Syndicate.

They track information on the Syndicate to a secure building, but as soon as it is retrieved, Faust takes it and flees. But not before Hunt learns the PM’s biometrics are needed to access the information. Hunt has come too far to quit, and so they follow Faust to London, where Lane’s men capture Dunn and use him to blackmail Faust into decrypting and bringing the information to them.

Hunt agrees, but as part of his plan, he goes ahead to confront the PM and gets him to confess that the Syndicate was a branch of MI6 that went rogue. That notwithstanding, He decrypts the information and meets Lane at the rendezvous.

Nobody would have seen what happened next coming, and Hunt offers himself in exchange for Dunn and Faust telling Lane that he is the information. Amidst the confusion, Dunn escapes, and Faust kills Lane’s right-hand man.

Not just that, but Lane is gassed and taken into custody. But having witnessed firsthand the prowess of the IMF, Hunley returns to the Senate committee with the gospel. Thus, the IMF is restored, and he is named IMF Secretary.

6. Mission Impossible: Fallout (2018)

It seems there is indeed no rest for the wicked, and if there is no rest for the wicked, there can be no rest for Ethan Hunt and the newly reinstated Impossible Missions Force. 

Director  Christopher McQuarrie has returned with the sixth installment of Mission Impossible, dubbed Fallout; lead actor  Tom Cruise is also back and better than ever before. I mean, look at those abs!

Well, if Ethan Hunt is back, so is the Syndicate or at least some parts of it. This is because the organization refused to back down after the capture of its leader Solomon Lane.

It is clear that they have rebuilt and are wreaking havoc worldwide under the cryptic name “the Apostles”. It is hard to tell whose apostles they are, but their gospel is that of death and destruction. Nevertheless, who is better than Ethan Hunt and the IMF to the rescue. Again.

As expected, Hunt and his teammates are tasked with acquiring three plutonium cores before the Apostles can lay hands on them. Unfortunately, however, one of Hunt’s teammates, Luther, is captured during the buy.  

However, as Hunt attempts to protect Luther, another international arms dealer, Alana Mitsopolis, also known as the white widow, takes the cores of plutonium. However, the CIA is furious at the team’s failure to recover the plutonium, and they send Agent August Walker to watch Hunt’s back.

Despite the circumstances, Hunt attempts to recover the plutonium from the white widow, but she asks him to extract Lane from custody in return. Ilsa Faust makes a sudden entrance and attempts to kill Lane, but she is unsuccessful. The White widow instructs Hunt to deliver both Lane and Faust to London.

However, looking for a double-crossing and unpatriotic shadow agent? In walks August Walker. Unknown to anyone else, Walker is an undercover agent for the Apostles. But, true to his backstabbing nature, he allows them to infiltrate and kill all the operatives. 

And just like that, Walker escapes and goes on to plan a massacre with good old Lane. Now, they intend to detonate the bombs in a camp in a strategic location to destroy the water supply of three large countries.

In addition, Lane chooses the spot because he has made Walker transfer Hunt’s ex-wife Julia to the camp. Talk about extra incentive to make Hunt confess to being the traitor.

Expectedly, in the end, the team successfully prevents world war three, Hunt kills Walker, and his partners, including Faust, help deactivate the bombs with the help of Julia, Hunt’s ex-wife, and Lane is captured yet again.

  • Hrvoje Milakovic is co-owner of Fiction Horizon and a big cinephile. Apart from that, he likes to read comics, play games and collect action figures. He has been featured on LifeWire, Yahoo and IMDb, to name a few.