The first trailer for Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation dropped this week, and it looks like it will be a thrilling, action-filled ride. If the film is as good as the trailer is, then we are all in for a real treat. Unfortunately, the verdict is still out for many people as to whether or not Tom Cruise is still fit enough to play one of the world’s most renowned special agents. But considering that Cruise filmed that airplane scene with no stunt double or CGI, I don’t think that his age or relevance is really an issue.
In anticipation of Rogue Nation and its epic first trailer, All That’s Epic is counting down the top ten scenes from the first four Mission: Impossible films. Some are action heavy, some are electrifying, and some are downright emotional. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to check out the best scenes that Agent Ethan Hunt has given us.
10. The Mole Hunt (Mission: Impossible)
When the IMF’s non-official cover (NOC) list, which contains all the names of all IMF agents, is on the verge of being sold to terrorists the world over, Hunt and his crew are dispatched to find the list and intercept the sale. The mission seems routine and non-threatening, but as agent after agent are killed, it is clear that something has gone horribly wrong, and Hunt is left as (seemingly) the sole survivor of the mission. Later that evening, while being debriefed in a restaurant in Prague, Hunt realizes that the entire mission was a setup, and was executed in order to find a mole in the IMF, and that mole is believed to be Hunt himself. He escapes by using his handy little explosive stick of gum to totally obliterate a huge fish tank in the restaurant, creating the perfect distraction and diversion.
The deaths during the mission are pretty brutal and gruesome; car bombs, stabbings, shootings, and, course, death by elevator. The murder of Hunt’s crew for nothing but a mole hunt sets the tone for the rest of the film. Mission: Impossible is arguably the darkest of the four films, and doesn’t capitalize on the high-budget action and comic relief that later films do. Instead, it relies on hushed, intense espionage scenes. The mole hunt is instantly memorable, especially Jack’s elevator death, and the restaurant debrief.
9. Getting Your Gun Off (Mission: Impossible 2)
The entire Mission: Impossible series does something that very few films have ever done, and it is all thanks to its iconic masks and disguises. Even though you know that at any moment, anybody could be wearing a mask of anyone’s face, somehow, you always forget that that’s a possibility, and when the mask comes off, it is always a surprise. No scene is a greater example than this one from Mission: Impossible 2.
For a moment, it seems that all hope for a happy ending is lost. Naya has injected herself with the deadly Chimera virus, and Hunt — bruised, beaten, and broken — is delivered to Ambrose. But Hunt makes the best of a sticky situation deep within the confines of the tunnels. Not only does he trick Ambrose into viciously killing his own right hand man, he also is able to steal samples of the cure for Chimera. M:I-2 was a lot more action driven than the first film, but this classic switcheroo is what Mission: Impossible is all about; quickly taking out your enemies through misdirection and confusion.
8. The Beach Fight (Mission: Impossible 2)
The final fight of Mission: Impossible 2 shows Hunt and Ambrose, dressed in slick, black clothing that seems way too warm for the weather and environment, duking it out fist to fist in a brutal fight to the death. There are two truly great moments in this fight. Hunt is pushed to within a hair’s width of his life when Ambrose brings a knife down on him, but Ethan stops the attack just before the knife is plunged into his eye. And then, finally, Hunt cheesily (but epically) kicks his gun up from the sand and buries a bullet into Ambrose.
If the sneakiness of the previous scene is what M:I-1 is all about, then this scene is the perfect representation of M:I-2. Is it over the top? Yes. Is it totally unbelievable? Absolutely. Is it supremely awesome? You know it.
7. Infiltrating the Kremlin (Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol)
After successfully breaking Ethan out of a Russian prison, Agents Hunt, Carter, and Benji head to the Kremlin. Their task is to retrieve evidence to identify and implicate the mysterious Cobalt in terrorist activity. But after successfully breaking into the Kremlin, Ethan discovers that the evidence in question is already gone, and the whole plan goes up in smoke (quite literally, actually) when the location and objective of our favorite IMF duo is revealed to the Russians. The framing of Hunt and his team for the bombing of the Kremlin is the catalyst that sets the events of Ghost Protocol in motion.
This scene is awesome and hilarious at the same time. There’s something so great about the blatantly Russian musical score, and Ethan Hunt posing as a no-nonsense Russian Army Officer is just fantastic. But the best part is the hallway infiltration. It has the series’ trademark silent, hair-raising thrills, awesome gadgets, and Simon Pegg being a total goof. Also we get to see the Kremlin blow up. What’s not to love?
6. Becoming Owen Davian (Mission: Impossible III)
I am hard pressed to not just list every scene from M:I-3 as the best. It really could just have its own top ten list. And while Ghost Protocol has been the most successful and well reviewed film in the series, the third film will likely always be my favorite. It features a vastly more mature and experienced Ethan Hunt, and ditches the concept of a “Hunt Girl” (that’s a Bond girl, but Mission: Impossible style. Feel free to use that term as you see fit) that M:I-2 tried to create.
When Agent Lindsey Farris is killed during an investigation into the activity of global arms dealer Owen Davian (played to perfection by the late and undoubtedly great Philip Seymour Hoffman) Hunt and others launch their own investigation of the dangerous man. Their plan? To impersonate and kidnap Davian at the Vatican. Simple enough.
Using a mask and voice changer, their plan goes down almost without a hitch. Almost. And it’s that little hiccup that makes the scene so great. If you haven’t seen this scene, or M:I-3 at all, please, for your own well being, watch it.
5. Rock Climbing (Mission: Impossible 2)
After the events of the first film, poor Agent Hunt just needed a little R&R. And his approximation of R&R is, apparently, free climbing giant rock formations in the Moab Desert in Utah. This awesome scene, like most of the scenes in M:I-2, straddles the line between campy and ridiculous. But that doesn’t take anything away from the fact that Tom Cruise is really out there in Moab, climbing those insane mountains.
Although this scene has no importance to the narrative of the film, it’s a great introduction to the “new” Ethan Hunt. He takes more risks and needs less support, and is starting to make the transition from espionage agent to action spy.
4. The Bridge Ambush (Mission: Impossible III)
So, the aforementioned kidnapping of Owen Davian was a success. The IMF has him in custody, and although he isn’t volunteering any information, it’s only a matter of time, right?
Probably. But then Davian’s cronies show up and ambush the agents in the most inconvenient of places: a forever-long bridge with no exit in sight.
An intense shootout with heavy artillery and weaponry isn’t something that most of the M:I films feature. Perhaps that’s why, in this case, it works so well. It is so different from the sneaky, cat and mouse games of this series and other spy movies, and Tom Cruise just delivers this scene perfectly.
3. I’m Having the Climb of My Life! (Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol)
While the M:I films have always stood out in their own right, they occasionally have a little bit of 007 envy. Hollywood’s foremost gentleman agent has always had a knack for ending up in some of the world’s most recognizable and beautiful locations. Whether Bond is snowmobiling or skiing through the Swiss Alps, or absolutely demolishing his childhood home in the Scottish Highlands, he always has great taste in locale. Ethan Hunt’s equivalent is this amazing scene filmed on location at the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.
After being disavowed, framed for an act of terrorism, and hunted by a persistent Russian agent, if there was one mission in Hunt’s life that he would need everything to work perfectly and go according to plan, this would be it. But, too bad for Hunt, Murphy’s Law is apparently in full effect during the events of Ghost Protocol. After realizing that he and his team only have one way to reach the server room in the massive hotel, Hunt begins to scale the side of the building nearly as deftly as the Web-Slinger himself (with the aid of some very cool tech, of course). And, as with most the cool gadgets in the film, his sticky gloves malfunction, and Hunt is left to finish the mission using his own skills and intellect. Don’t look down, Ethan.
2. Into the CIA Vault (Mission: Impossible)
This is definitely the iconic Mission: Impossible scene. After Ethan is set up as the mole, and framed for attempting to purchase the IMF NOC list, he sets out on a desperate and elaborate mission to clear his name. The main goal of the mission is to steal the actual NOC list to draw out the buyer, take them into custody, and prove Hunt’s innocence.
Hunt recruits two disavowed IMF agents, Krieger and Luther, to help him break into the CIA vault and steal the NOC list. The vault has heat sensors, motion sensors, and pressure sensors on the floor. Not the ideal room to try to break in to. And it all goes pretty well, until a rat gets into the vent and nearly causes Krieger to drop Ethan onto the pressure sensors.
I was watching the film, and this scene in particular, as I was writing this top ten list. And this scene is just so good that I was totally distracted from my writing, and had to watch all the events play out in their entirety. For many and most people, when they hear “Mission: Impossible,” this is the scene that comes to mind, and for good reason. It is, without a doubt, one of the best scenes in all of the series, and perhaps in the entire spy/thriller genre as well.
1. Count to Ten (Mission: Impossible III)
After Davian escapes IMF custody thanks to the bridge ambush, he kidnaps Hunt’s wife, Julia, and demands that Ethan deliver the rabbit’s foot (whatever that is) to him in exchange for Julia’s life. After an exhilarating race through Shanghai (which is also a standout scene), Hunt delivers the rabbit’s foot to Davian, but Davian insists that what Hunt delivered was not the genuine article. This is where the scene begins.
There are two very simple reasons why this scene from M:I-3 takes the number one spot as the best Mission: Impossible scene yet: Philip Seymour Hoffman and Tom Cruise.
Hoffman’s portrayal of Davian is one of the most spine-chilling, blood-curdling, heartless performances that I have ever seen. He is one of my most favorite movie bad guys of all time. The way he regards human life with such indifference is disturbingly brilliant. And Cruise’s range of emotion as he watches his wife sit at the mercy of a cold-blooded killer is mesmerizing.
How excited are you for Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation? What are your favorite scenes from the M:I series? Make sure to let us know what you think in the comments. Do it quickly, though, because this article will self-destruct in five seconds.