Are The Mission: Impossible movies suitable for kids? Movies4Kids rates them all…
While, like the Bond movies, the Mission: Impossible series isn’t aimed at kids, the mix of action, adventure and stunts certainly appeals to older children and teens, and the most recent release, Mission: Impossible – Fallout, is set to be the blockbuster hit of the summer of 2018.
But should your kids watch Tom Cruise foil international plots while fighting nasty bad guys and dangling off cliffs? Check out our reviews of the first five Mission: Impossible movies below, and click here for the Movies4Kids review of the latest instalment, Mission: Impossible Fallout.
Mission: Impossible (1996)
The first movie to be based on the sixties TV series of the same name, this action movie introduced moviegoers to IMF (Impossible Missions Force) agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) as he attempted to uncover the mole who had framed him for the murders of his team.
With a cast that includes Emilio Estevez, Kristin Scott Thomas, Vanessa Redgrave, Emmanuelle Béart and Jon Voight, along with Jean Reno and Ving Rhames as two disavowed IMF agents who help Hunt clear his name, director Brian De Palma’s movie zips across Europe at a fast pace, taking in Prague, London and a Channel-bound train. There are stunts galore, including the famous and much-copied break in with Cruise suspended from the ceiling, and while the plot may be a bit convoluted, it remains a slick introduction to the franchise (even if kids will wince at some of the outdated technology on display).
Possibly the tamest of the series, this does feature fights, shootings and stabbings, and more than one likeable character is killed which may upset sensitive and younger viewers. Although the movie is a PG certificate, due to the twisting plot it is probably best suited to viewers over the age of 10.
Mission: Impossible II (2000)
Hong Kong director John Woo – best known for often bloody action movies like Hard Target and Face/Off – delivered the only 15 certificate Mission: Impossible movie (see notes below).
This is the one that begins with Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt scaling a cliff while on vacation (with no safety net, only a harness, just one of many jaw-dropping stunts Cruise has performed himself in the Mission: Impossible franchise). He’s then called back into action by boss Swanbeck (Anthony Hopkins) and is soon on the trail of a deadly virus, its cure and the rogue agent (Dougray Scott) who has stolen them.
In this one, Ethan Hunt gets a love interest – Thandie Newton’s professional thief Nyah – and there is classy support from Scott, Brendan Gleeson, Richard Roxburgh and a returning Ving Rhames, but once again it is the action sequences that are the star including an impressive motorcycle chase. Bloodier than the other movies, this has a weak plot but almost makes up for it with luscious locations (Sydney, Seville) and impressive stunts.
Please note, this is the only Mission: Impossible movie to be given a 15 certificate. This is mainly due to the violence in the movie being more graphic, with more blood shown when characters are shot etc.
Parents should note that it is scenes in which you see the result of what happens to someone being exposed to a deadly virus (bloody coming from eyes etc) that are most distressing, but there are other scenes that may not be suitable for the under 15s, including the inference that one character has his finger cut off with a cigar cutter.
Mission: Impossible III (2006)
Lost and Fringe creator JJ Abrams made his movie directorial debut with the pacy third Mission Impossible movie (he has, of course, since gone on to direct Star Trek and Star Wars: The Force Awakens).
Ethan Hunt now trains new IMF recruits and is about to marry a nurse named Julia (Michelle Monaghan) who is completely clueless as to what he really does for a living. However, when one of his trainees is killed, Ethan goes back in the field to investigate the arms dealer who may be responsible, and of course this puts his personal relationship in danger.
With a new team in place that includes Ethan’s old pal Luther (Ving Rhames) alongside tech expert Benji (Simon Pegg), Declan (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) and kick ass Zhen Lei (Maggie Q), the investigation takes them to Rome, Shanghai, Berlin and a stunt-filled set piece on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. Fast-paced, fun and packed with stunts, this is the best of the first three Mission: Impossible movies.
This has the same level of violence and tense action sequences as you would expect from a Mission Impossible movie, but parents should note that early in the movie one character dies from an explosive pellet implanted in their head that causes their eyes to fill with blood before it kills them. This is a little gruesome to watch and parents should be advised it is not suitable for younger or sensitive viewers.
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011)
Ethan Hunt has to foil no less than an impending nuclear war in the fourth Mission: Impossible movie.
Directed by The Incredibles Brad Bird, this has the IMF team working alone to save the day after they fail to stop a bomb blowing up half the Kremlin, and their investigation takes Ethan and pals – including Benji (Simon Pegg), Jane Carter (Paula Patton), and William Brandt (Jeremy Renner) – on a stylish, fast-paced journey from Russia to Dubai (where Tom Cruise dangles off the Burj Khalifa skyscraper – again not using a stunt double) and on to Mumbai for even more action.
The Burj Khalifa scenes are terrific, and there is an impressive chase scene in a Dubai sandstorm but what makes this slice of Mission: Impossible so enjoyable is the humour that continues in the later movies, too.
Those with a fear of heights may find an extended scene with Tom Cruise hanging off a building quite tough to watch, but in terms of violence, this is as you would expect for a Mission: Impossible movie – fights, shootings and not too much time spent dwelling on the result.
Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015)
Of the first five Mission: Impossible films, Rogue Nation is definitely the best. Written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie, the movie has Ethan Hunt determined to prove the existence of The Syndicate, a criminal group the CIA does not believe exists.
After escaping a torture chamber with the help of former MI6 agent Isla Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), Hunt is cut off from the IMF when CIA director Hunley (Alec Baldwin) has the group disbanded, and is living the life of a fugitive while trying to track the Syndicate down with the help of IMF pal Benji (Simon Pegg).
Featuring some gripping set pieces, from a record store killing in London to an assassination attempt at the opera in Vienna and a gripping finale near the Tower Of London, this twists and turns as Hunt tries to unravel the conspiracies around him. Ferguson is a welcome addition to the cast, along with Baldwin and an amusing Tom Hollander as the British Prime Minister, but in the end the movie belongs to Cruise, thanks to his likeable performance and another jaw-dropping stunt that this time has him hanging off a plane.
Aimed at older kids (age 10+) and adults, this does feature a torture scene early on, as well as numerous fights and chases. Younger viewers may find the torture sequence tense and distressing although no harm comes to the main character.
One character is shot in the head early in the movie, and there are other gunshot injuries but they are not dwelled upon.
Click here for a review of the sixth instalment, Mission: Impossible – Fallout.