Mission: Impossible has long been one of cinema’s greatest modern action franchises. Starting back in 1996 with an adaptation of the 1966 TV series of the same name, it quickly proved better than its source material by offering high-octane thrills, daring heists, and brilliant action sequences. Every Mission: Impossible movie exists to serve a singular purpose: to be as thrilling and as action-packed as possible.

Based as it is on a TV show from the ’60s, it also features a number of conceptually whimsical staples. The famous phrase “your mission, should you choose to accept it…” and the use of hyper-realistic masks and voice changers stand out as particularly silly, even though they’re an excepted (and even beloved) aspect of the franchise. More recent entries have seemingly become vehicles for increasingly insane stunts for Tom Cruise to perform (although that admittedly makes for great cinema).

Still, with 7 entries spanning four separate decades, the franchise has seen some changes. These changes set each and every Mission: Impossible movie apart, making them all as unique as they are conceptually similar. With that in mind, here is each Mission: Impossible movie, ranked from worst to best.

7. Mission: Impossible (1996)

Every Mission: Impossible movie ranked - Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt hanging from a wire in Mission: Impossible (1996)

The first film in the franchise remains utterly iconic, that much is undeniable. With a stellar cast of Tom Cruise, Jon Voight, Vanessa Redgrave, Ving Rhames, and Jean Reno, it’s a veritable action feast for ’90s stars. However, it finds itself last on this list for one simple reason: identity.

Based as it is on the TV show from the ’60s, Mission: Impossible suffers occasionally from a lack of balance. It leans heavily into the gimmicks from the show (namely, endless mask reveals and vague reliance on information that only faithful viewers form the ’60s will remember). The film itself might be a well-made action thriller, but it’s a continuation rather than a full reboot.

By tying its story to a decades-old TV show, Mission: Impossible seems to be conflicted about its nature. That said, Tom Cruise makes a compelling leading man, and it’s packed with excellent and appropriately unforgettable action sequences. We might consider it the worst of the franchise, but it’s still a brilliant movie.