Every week in September gets you a new Mission: Impossible listicle. Why? Why not.
LAST: Jeremy Renner – William Brandt
The NERVE of the Hollywood machine to think they could replace Tom fucking Cruise with Jeremy Renner! The NERVE of the Hollywood machine to think that they could turn Jeremy Renner into a persona based star when his “persona” is just a cardboard box. This was a dark time in Hollywood. I know things are even worse now, but at least we have gotten over Jeremy Renner Syndrome.
7. Sean Harris – Solomon Lane
This boring-ass man gets points for lasting more than one of these films and that is pretty much it! At this point in the franchise they really needed like a Javier Bardem in Skyfall type villain if they were to be reoccurring. Instead, this dour man serves mostly as an idea to keep the plot moving. He’s also a classic case of a villain in one of these movies who is largely asking the right questions about what the hell is wrong with these evil intelligence companies but they then have to make irrational on some level so that we never stop rooting for the American superhero spies.
6. Michelle Monaghan – Julia Meade
Monaghan’s role here mostly feels like a symbol. The Ethan Hunt in MI 3 still was holding out hope there was a life for him in the real world. The events of that film put him on a path since then that has made him accept that he is the Batman of the world and there’s nothing left for him but impossible missions that he must make possible. The talented Monaghan does her best though in what little she is given to make her not nothing. As you can tell, this series is not wholly dependent on the success of the recurring characters.
5. Alec Baldwin – Alan Hunley
The best part about Alec Baldwin in these movies is that his small role is so radically different in his two appearances that he might as well be playing two different characters. In RN, he complaints the government wet blanket trying to shut down Ethan Hunt and in Fallout he is their cheerleader against the new government wet blanket!! He is basically just playing Jack Donaghy only if he was the head of the CIA. It’s pretty great.
4. Rebecca Ferguson – Ilsa Faust
Ferguson has a semi-thankless role, but she really does a fine job with it. It mostly feels like her journey in these later films is set up to mirror Ethan a bit, and that creates a bond between them that continuously draws to them each other instead of just entirely by circumstance. It’s a good character for the franchise to invest in, as they have struggled over the years to create interesting and dynamic female characters and just keep abandoning them.
3. Simon Pegg – Benji Dunn
While they come dangerous close to overdoing it with Pegg at several points (with Rogue Nation possibly coming the closest to putting too much emphasis on him), there is no doubt that his presence was a shot in the arm to the franchise and allowed them to embrace a slightly sillier tone for the films. He also provides an everyman supporting presence which helps to occasionally ground the film by making him so impressed by the ridiculousness of what we are watching.
2. Ving Rhames – Luther Stickell
Ving Rhames brings a great comforting and sense of familiarity to the franchise. It truly would not feel like a Mission Impossible movie if he was not there to help Tom Cruise save the world once again. There’s a steadiness to his presence that offers underappreciated value, and his broad arc mirrors the story of Ethan Hunt in a very complimentary way. After six films, he has put all of his faith into Ethan for better or worse and has accepted the idea that what they do is truly necessary.
FIRST: Tom Cruise – Ethan Hunt
Ethan Hunt is the defining role of one of the last great and true movie stars. The Tom Cruise persona is best defined by the Ethan Hunt character and so many of his other roles in the last twenty years have felt like an extension or close variation of Ethan Hunt. It’s a role that highlights everything compelling about Cruise.