5. Mission: Impossible III (2006)
Perhaps the most controversial placement on this list, because Mission: Impossible III probably has the most issues of any film in the franchise. However, in spite of a few shortcomings, it’s actually very impressive overall, which (in our opinion, at least) elevates it just above it predecessors. It may not be perfect, but it certainly is enjoyable.
It follows Ethan Hunt’s re-entry into the IMF after attempting to retire and marry. Being drawn into a plot involving a notorious arms dealer sees Hunt’s wife kidnapped, and he’s forced to fight to save both her and the life he dared to build. It’s a little different from other Mission: Impossible plots, because it leans into the personal angle, but it also marked a key moment in the franchise.
Mission: Impossible III is the first film in the franchise that seems to truly know what it needs to be. Its blend of action with daring heists and stunts is the formula that the franchise has since stuck with, marking the birth of Mission: Impossible‘s true form. Here is where the franchise’s blockbuster potential was truly achieved, which more than makes up the film’s few narrative shortcomings.