Over the last two decades, Hollywood superstar Tom Cruise has taken a classic television series and turned it into a blockbusting action film franchise. During this time it has and continues to rival the James Bond series with its equally exotic locations, outlandish plots by insane villains to take over or destroy the world, aided by some nifty gadget-fu. However, the “Mission: Impossible” films really claimed fame for their breathtaking stunts performed by the series’ star Tom Cruise. From the lung-busting mountain climb in “Mission: Impossible II” to the night time HALO drop of the latest instalment “Mission: Impossible Fallout”, (released in UK cinemas today) Cruise has firmly established, with this franchise alone, his action film credentials and at the age of 56 shows no signs of slowing down.
For fight fans across the world, the series has produced some epic hand-to-hand clashes with each one becoming successively faster, harder-hitting and furious than the last. Cruise has reportedly trained in a variety of fighting systems including Krav Maga, Jiu Jitsu, and kickboxing to make a convincing super spy who is as dangerous with his feet and hands as he is with a gun. With the release of the latest thrilling chapter – considered to be the best of the franchise – we’re scanning through IMF agent Ethan Hunt’s dossier in search of his most energetic, mission-driven, action-packed fight scenes. Now we’ve just lit the fuse, your mission, if you choose to accept it is to follow us as we countdown the Top 5 Mission: Impossible Fight Scenes!
- Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015) – Escaping the Bone Doctor
- Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011) – Fight for the Briefcase
- Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015) – A Night at the Opera
- Mission: Impossible II (2000) – Ethan Hunt vs. Sean Ambrose Beach Fight
Kicking off our explosive top five is this tense yet fun-filled moment from the fifth instalment in which Ethan Hunt is charged with tracking down The Syndicate – an anarchist terrorist group led by Solomon Lane (Sean Harris). However, things go slightly pear-shaped when Hunt wakes up in a dungeon surrounded by Syndicate henchmen. Before the sadistic Janik Vinter (aka ‘The Bone Doctor’ played by Jens Hulten) can unleash his type of torturous mayhem, Hunts finds himself an ally in the mysterious Ilsa (Rebecca Ferguson) as an escape ensues.
The sheer physicality of Cruise in this scene is eye-opening, particularly where he slides up the pole to free himself – a feat worthy of a gymnast. As Cruise dishes out some serious punishment it is Ferguson who shines brightly with an impressive arsenal of Jiu jitsu-esque leg locks, holds and throw. The two together make a great double team playing off one another in what is one of the more tense moments of the film which also includes that requisite touch of humour.
That blend of intense action and relatable humour took hold in this fourth instalment and features the death-defying climb up the Burj Khalifa hotel. Fight co-ordinators Randy Hall (“Road House” and “Martial Law” TV series) and Robert Alonzo (“Deadpool” and “Jack Reacher”) put together one of the most bizarre yet exciting fight scenes. Towards the film’s climax Hunt chases down terrorist Hendricks (Michael Nyqvist) to recover stolen Russian nuclear launch codes. The chase leads them to an automated car park which, once the loading bays are activated, proves to be quite the daunting gauntlet.
This scene has the perfect mix of literally bone-breaking fights with some incredible physical stunts that add a little levity but a lot more tension giving us one of those few moments where Hunt actually looks to be in some danger; he has to dodge the moving platforms as well as Hendricks’ sweeping strikes. The drop downs and climb ups with each loading bay keep you on the edge of your seat throughout and both actors are given some clean-cut choreography to play with that have a very urgent and improvised feel.
Ethan Hunt goes rogue in his battle to bring down the evil Syndicate looking to unleash anarchy on an unsuspecting world. Months in hiding and clandestine detective work lead Hunt to the Vienna State Opera and an assassination attempt which – with the help of team mate Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) he is determined thwart. His climb onto the lighting platform above the stage brings him into contact with a behemoth of an assassin and the two exchange body blows.
Wolfgang Stegemann helms the fight scene with class and humour; there is plenty of skill on display here especially up in the rafters obviously requiring some serious balancing ability. The mix of serious and comedic moments, courtesy of Hunt’s priceless reactions to his seemingly unstoppable foe, all add up to a magnificent mission moment.
The king of Hong Kong heroic bloodshed, John Woo, took the helm of the second instalment of Mission: Impossible and majorly upped the action ante. All the high-octane hallmarks of one of action cinema’s greatest directors are present and accounted for; stylish slo-mo and of course balletic style gun-fu with an operatic feel. Even though the first film may have left some action fans disappointed, there were some gut-wrenching stunts; for example, the awesome mountain climb was since seen repeated in “The Suspect”. However, with the fierce onscreen rivalry between Ethan Hunt and baddie of the hour, Sean Ambrose (a deliciously sinister turn played by Dougray Scott) a former IMF agent looking to unleash a plague in order to profit from selling the cure, a refreshing gust of action-packed life was breathed into the franchise.
For action junkies and fight fans, what’s not to love about this scene from starting with a hair-raising motorcycle chase, literally crashing into one another, to ending up on the beach for an epic showdown. This was certainly much harder and grittier than the action in subsequent instalments with everything played straight and an extreme sense of urgency, this beach-fight mission-moment packs a real punch. Scott certainly comes across as a vicious and unrelenting nemesis putting real oomph into his strikes; Cruise shows real skill however with all his fight training paying off, and if anyone knows how to capitalise on their actors’ physical abilities it’s the legendary John Woo!
…and in at #1 is…
Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018) – Bathroom Fight
The latest chapter in the “Mission: Impossible” saga promised bigger, badder and more thrilling action than the last and all we can say is “Mission: Accomplished”. If you don’t believe us, check out our Action Special Review.
In the true vein of classic actioners like “True Lies” and “Casino Royale” it seems you can’t answer a call of nature in peace, you barely have time to wash your hands before a fight breaks out! But in the case of “Mission: Impossible Fallout” it’s less of a fight and more an entertaining clash of the titans. Hunt, along with CIA assassin August Walker (a brilliant villainous debut from “Superman” star Henry Cavill) prepare to extract uber-terrorist John Lark (Liang Yang) from a Parisian night club. Lark however proves to be a much tougher target than expected.
As we’ve said, this scene alone is worth the price of your ticket alone, and from just this little snippet it’s not hard to see why. Liang Yang is incredibly fast and agile, running rings around our two heroes. Impressing as well are Cruise who, to his credit, seems to be getting faster and more skilled with age, and a hulking Cavill taking on his first big fight scene. Wolfgang Stegemann returns to stunt co-ordination duties giving us a fight that is as packed with nail-biting tension as it is laughs.
Each strike looks devastatingly painful (check out Walker’s expression at the start of this clip) and the very real sense of danger is ever present. Enthralling, action-packed entertainment at its finest, if “Mission: Impossible Fallout” is the best in the franchise, the Bathroom Scene fittingly represents the best mission-driven fight scene of the saga so far…
So there we have it readers, our Top 5 “Mission: Impossible” fight scenes down through the years of the series. Which of these fights got your nerves twitching, caused you palpitations or made your hair stand on end? What should the next or the ultimate MI fight scene look like in your opinion? Let us know in the comments below, join in the conversation, share this on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter & Instagram. (For more epic, blockbusting action, click into our FUniverse of reviews, exclusives and other Top 5’s too!)