Infamous for its incredible stunts and awesome spy tech, the Mission: Impossible franchise is similarly as prolific for the incredibly large number of times Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) runs in the franchise. Besides, it wouldn’t be a Tom Cruise movie without it. Seeing Ethan Hunt run is as cathartic as it is thrilling. The way Ethan sprints away from or towards danger, while every limb of his body moves faster than the speed of light, all while his torso and head remain incredibly still, make for some of the most exhilarating and adrenaline-fueled scenes in action cinema.
In every Mission: Impossible movie, Ethan sprints more than once, resulting in too many great running scenes to choose from. Yet, we have tried to compile the best into a list. So without further ado, here are Ethan Hunt’s best running scenes in the entire Mission: Impossible franchise.
10 Bridge Attack – Mission: Impossible III (2006)
The bridge attack in Mission: Impossible III is without a doubt one of the best scenes of the movie. Cars are destroyed and blown up, bombs go off, and of course, Ethan Hunt sprints. Although it’s a shorter run than the rest of the list. The choreography, stakes, and the destruction of the scene have to be admired, and after a short sprint to safety, Ethan flies into a car after getting blasted by an explosive.
9 Onto a Movie Plane – Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015)
Tom Cruise has performed some truly incredible stunts in the name of cinema. Primarily in the Mission: Impossible franchise alone. He skydived out of a plane at 25,000 feet, dangled at the bottom of a moving helicopter, and in this case, in 2015’s Rogue Nation, he hung onto the side of a large cargo plane as it took off. However, to get onto said plane, Ethan had to sprint up a large grassy hill before jumping onto the wing of the airplane, so he can run along that to find a way inside.
8 Down the Burj Khalifa – Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011)
Ethan Hunt’s climb up the gigantic Dubai skyscraper, the Burj Khalifa, still stands as one of the best moments from the franchise. Ethan’s climb up is full of tension, high-octane stunt work, and stunning cinematography. The implementation of magnetic gloves is a brilliant touch, and the fact that the batteries kept dying added a greater challenge to Ethan and raised the stakes of the scene entirely.
After climbing numerous floors from the side of the building, Ethan had to get back down, but with his magnetic gloves out of commission, naturally, there was only one thing for him to do. Tie himself to a water hose, jump out of the window, and run down the side of the Burj Khalifa. When the hose reaches his limit, Ethan runs across the enormous skyscraper, in order to gain momentum to leap, cut himself free of the hose and land in his safe room with the rest of his team.
7 The Kremlin – Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011)
Again, this running scene in Ghost Protocol is pretty short, however; its chaotic and explosive nature makes for an unforgettable running sequence. Although the scene’s CG is a little distracting, the cinematography and the unexpected levels of chaos make for one of the best scenes in the movie.
After their heist on the Kremlin goes horribly wrong, Ethan, while walking away from the Kremlin, feels the ground shake. He turns around and suddenly, the Kremlin explodes to pieces, imploding in itself. This explosion then sends a ripple of fiery explosions, Ethan’s way, blowing up cars and sending Ethan flying before cutting to black.
6 Dubai Airport – Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning: Part 1 (2023)
The latest Mission: Impossible movie, Dead Reckoning Part 1 brought with it more of Tom Cruise running. This time, we see Cruise run through a crowded airport, before climbing up onto the roof and running the entire length of Dubai’s airport, in an attempt to reach Grace (Hayley Attwell) and avoid the authorities. The cinematography is stunning and the serene Dubai desert behind Tom is simply divine. There’s not much tension in the scene, but it’s just a gorgeous scene to watch.
5 Venice – Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning: Part 1 (2023)
Dead Reckoning: Part 1 offers one of the most intense and stunning running scenes in the franchise. The dark city of Venice, lit up by candlelight and beams of light from the moon, is a gorgeous backdrop. The stakes are incredibly high, as Ethan must race to save either Grace or Ilsa (Rebecca Ferguson) from their demise. With every minute that goes by, the music intensifies before shifting to complete silence when Ethan arrives on the scene to see who’s lifeless corpse he is met with.
Not only does Ethan run through Venice, but he is also forced to fight some of Gabriel’s (Esai Morales) henchmen and Paris (Pom Klementieff), who are trying to slow Ethan down, enhancing the tension of this scene.
4 The Sandstorm – Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011)
Brad Bird, the director of Ghost Protocol, seemingly asked, “How can we top the scene with Ethan running down the side of the Burj Khalifa? Easy, let’s have him high tail it away from an impending sandstorm”. Filled with stunning cinematography, impeccable acting from Tom Cruise, as well as some awesome stunt work, this incredibly long, running scene is without a doubt one of the series’ best.
After seeing Ethan charge after Wistrom (Samuli Edelmann) with the sandstorm speeding up behind them, the two soon get consumed by the sandstorm, where the chase continues. The running lasts quite a while, as Ethan must navigate where his enemy went in the midst of a sandstorm.
3 The Fish Tank – Mission: Impossible (1996)
The fish tank explosion in the first Mission: Impossible movie is one of the most iconic scenes in the franchise, and action cinema as a whole. It’s exhilarating, and upon first viewing with no prior knowledge of the scene, wholly unexpected. Tom Cruise is a badass, as he charges and leaps away from the impending tsunami chasing him down.
After a tense interrogation with Kittridge (Henry Czerny) waves of water surround, crash down, and pursue Ethan. Ethan must safely navigate and race out of the restaurant with an impressive but unusual aquatic display.
2 Chasing Walker – Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018)
Mission: Impossible – Fallout saw Tom Cruise commit some of the most dangerous and biggest stunts in the entire franchise, and one of the best was seeing Cruise sprint across the streets and rooftops of London after Henry Cavill’s August Walker. As Cruise zooms through the streets of London, the music pounds through your ear drums, raising your heart beats and make for an endlessly entertaining action sequence.
On top of that, Benji’s wrong directions raise the stakes, as Ethan must leap between buildings, with Tom Cruise breaking his ankle in real life, and eventually jumping out of a window of a large office building. Even upon the final moments when Ethan reaches Walker, he hangs on the bottom of a moving elevator before Walker catches him.
1 Across Shanghai – Mission: Impossible III (2006)
Never will you see a man run with more speed or ferocity in cinematic history. This scene is the epitome of all the running scenes in Tom Cruise’s filmography. It’s tense, fast-paced, beautifully shot, and also offers a great performance from Cruise.
In an attempt to save his wife, Ethan darts through the streets of Shanghai. Speeding along bridges, shooting past individuals, and dashing through markets, before finding his wife, with the menacing antagonist Owen Davian (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) waiting for Ethan to arrive.