The “Mission: Impossible” movies promise two things: Tom Cruise risking his life to entertain audiences and a plethora of mask hijinks. The films, based on the 1966 television series of the same name, follow the adventures of Cruise’s Ethan Hunt and his team of spies traveling the globe. Members of the Impossible Mission Force, A.K.A. the IMF, the team is dispatched to take care of only the most insurmountable tasks. From stopping nuclears to preventing the spread of a deadly virus, the IMF works behind the scenes to protect the lives of people the world over.
The film franchise began with Brian De Palma’s 1996 film about a mission gone wrong and features a wire-dangling stunt so tense that subsequent filmmakers still strive to match it. The movies, produced by Cruise, have largely been helmed by different directors. Following De Palma, John Woo, J.J. Abrams, Brad Bird and Christopher McQuarrie all took a swing at the series with McQuarrie directing the most recent two and the two that are upcoming.
Using masks to disguise characters, usually with a surprise reveal, got started on the TV show and directors in the film series brought their own spin to the gag. Some use the masks to pull the rug out from under viewers’ feet while others let the audience in on the deception. With six films, there has been plenty of variation in the execution of the reveal. In honor of the release of “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” five years ago today, this is every mask reveal, ranked.