How to watch the Mission: Impossible movies in order

Cameron Frew
Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt in the Mission: Impossible movies, including Dead Reckoning Part 1Paramount Pictures

Ethan Hunt’s back in Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part 1. If you want to get in the spirit and relive the franchise’s best moments, here’s how to watch all of the Mission: Impossible movies in both release and chronological order, and where to stream them.

Maverick, Jerry Maguire, Vincent (in two movies), Les Grossman, Frank T.J. Mackey, Jack Reacher; Tom Cruise has played so many well-known, beloved characters. However, there’s one that’s arguably more important than the rest: Ethan Hunt, Earth’s mightiest hero in the Mission: Impossible movie franchise.

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For 27 years, Cruise’s death-defying IMF agent has saved the world from bio-weapons, nuclear warfare, and rogue operatives orchestrating suffering in aid of peace. In the latest entry, he and his team take on one of the deadliest threats humanity has ever faced.

So, with Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part 1 hitting cinemas this week, here’s how to watch all the movies in release and chronological order.

Mission: Impossible movies in release order

As always, watching a franchise in release order is always the most straightforward – and let’s be honest, the best – way to go. Here’s the release order for the Mission: Impossible movies:

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  • Mission: Impossible (1996)
  • Mission: Impossible 2 (2000)
  • Mission: Impossible III (2006)
  • Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011)
  • Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015)
  • Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018)
  • Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part 1 (2023)

The first movie was the subject of back-and-forth development, with Paramount Pictures desperate to adapt the beloved TV series into a film. It wasn’t until Cruise chose it as his first project as a producer that it kicked into high gear, sparking a brand-new franchise.

The sequel, directed by John Woo, outgrossed its predecessor and paved the way for a third entry directed by J.J. Abrams. Five years later, Ghost Protocol became the first of the modern-day M:I movies, especially given the involvement of Christopher McQuarrie, who’d become Cruise’s right-hand man and the director of Rogue Nation, Fallout, and Dead Reckoning Part 1.

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He’ll return to the director’s seat for Part 2, but the franchise’s future is unclear from that point. The DR double-bill was originally billed as a sendoff for Ethan Hunt, but now McQuarrie isn’t so sure, telling Fandango that it isn’t the “end” of the series.

Mission: Impossible movies in chronological order

Thankfully, watching the Mission: Impossible movies in chronological order is exactly the same as the release order:

  • Mission: Impossible (1996)
  • Mission: Impossible 2 (2000)
  • Mission: Impossible III (2006)
  • Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011)
  • Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015)
  • Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018)
  • Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part 1 (2023)

Neither the original TV series, which ran between 1966-78, nor its successor series or spinoff movie Mission: Impossible vs. the Mob are considered canon. Below, you can refresh yourself on the basics of each movie’s plot, if you’re trying to remember exactly what happened and which ones you’ve actually seen.

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Mission: Impossible

Tom Cruise in 1996's Mission: ImpossibleParamount Pictures

The first Mission: Impossible follows Jim Phelps’ (Jon Voigt) Impossible Missions Force crew as they seem to fall victim to a mole in the agency. Only this time, unlike in the series, Phelps isn’t the hero: it’s Ethan Hunt, and he goes on the run – while very upset, we’d add – to find the truth.

Aside from Hunt and Luther (Ving Rhames), nobody else in the cast has reprised their roles… well, except for one character, but we’ll get to that in a bit.

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Mission: Impossible 2

Paramount Pictures

In M:I2, when he’s not free-soloing cliff sides and ditching explosive sunglasses, Ethan Hunt is tasked with finding and destroying Chimera, a devastating technical weapon sought-after by former IMF agent Sean Ambrose (Dougray Scott).

Pretty much nothing from this movie has ever been referenced in the franchise again, which is a damn shame, considering it has one of the best-ever lines from Anthony Hopkins’ never-to-be-seen-again commander: “Well, this is not mission difficult, Mr. Hunt, it’s mission impossible.”

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Mission: Impossible III

In Mission: Impossible 3, we meet Hunt’s best, scariest adversary: Owen Davian (Philip Seymour Hoffman), an infamous arms dealer in pursuit of the Rabbit’s Foot, another biological weapon.

This entry marked the debut of Michelle Monaghan’s Julia and Simon Pegg’s Benji (a role originally earmarked for Ricky Gervais), and it’s especially crucial for Hunt as a character, with beats that rear their heads in all of the movies that follow.

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible - Ghost ProtocolParamount Pictures

Ghost Protocol opens with Ethan Hunt in a Russian prison. However, he’s broken out for another mission… only to be disavowed after the Kremlin is destroyed. Along with his other IMF teammates (Jeremy Renner and Paula Patton, who have short-lived tenures in the series), they go after Russia’s stolen nuclear codes.

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While remembered mostly for its show-stopping Burj Khalifa set-piece, this felt like an attempt to set up a new IMF team (Renner was considered as the new lead of the franchise, an idea that was quickly nixed), and it also teased the Syndicate as the next big bad.

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible - FalloutParamount Pictures

In Rogue Nation, Hunt becomes obsessed with hunting down the Syndicate, a covert network of rogue spies trying to dismantle the current world order, and their leader Solomon Lane (Sean Harris).

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As you’d expect, Hunt ends up taking a lot of heat for the baddies’ actions, and this time he’s also at odds with Alec Baldwin’s CIA director – but don’t worry, he comes around… for the time that he can.

Mission: Impossible – Fallout

Tom Cruise, Henry Cavill, and Rebecca Ferguson in Mission: Impossible - FalloutParamount Pictures

While seeming to eject Renner’s character for no reason, Fallout mixed all of the pieces together: you have the remnants of the Syndicate, known as the Apostles; a plot hinging on the recovery of plutonium and preventing the detonation of a BFB (big f*cking bomb); and baddies, henchmen, and arms dealers that link the franchise together.

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Notably, Monaghan’s Julia returns in a key section of the film, and there’s Vanessa Kirby’s White Widow, the daughter of Max from the first movie. Henry Cavill also reloads his arms.

Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part 1

The cast of Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part 1Paramount Pictures

Dead Reckoning Part 1, the first of a two-part blockbuster event, pits Hunt and the IMF against a dangerous new… thing – let’s call it an “incontestable form of world dominance.”

The official synopsis reads: “Ethan Hunt and his IMF team embark on their most dangerous mission yet: to track down a terrifying new weapon that threatens all of humanity before it falls into the wrong hands. With control of the future and the fate of the world at stake, and dark forces from Ethan’s past closing in, a deadly race around the globe begins. Confronted by a mysterious, all-powerful enemy, Ethan is forced to consider that nothing can matter more than his mission – not even the lives of those he cares about most.”

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While we won’t get into spoilers, we can say this: Eugene Kittridge (Henry Czerny) makes his long-awaited return after his scene-stealing appearance in the first Mission: Impossible.

Where to stream the Mission: Impossible movies

The Mission: Impossible movies are available to stream on Paramount Plus.

They’re also available to buy or rent on Amazon Prime. Please note that if you click on a product link on this page we may earn a small affiliate commission.

Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part 1 is in cinemas worldwide now. Check out our other coverage below:

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About The Author

Cameron is Deputy TV and Movies Editor at Dexerto. He's an action movie aficionado, '80s obsessive, Oscars enthusiast, and a staunch Scot. He earned a First-Class Honours Degree in Multimedia Journalism from Glasgow Caledonian University, accredited by the NCTJ and BJTC. He began his career at UNILAD, starting as a Junior Journalist and becoming Entertainment Editor prior to joining Dexerto. You can contact him at cameron.frew@dexerto.com.