Ethan Hunt’s IMF Teammates, Ranked

Through the years, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise, duh) has saved the world with all types of IMF agents, from hall of fame operatives to walking, talking sack of rocks who nearly got him killed. After toiling through stacks of IMF agent files and speaking with the current and former IMF directors (that’s not true, I made that up) I have put together the definitive ranking of every agent Hunt has worked with.

15.) Hannah (Ingeborga Dapuknaite)
(Mission: Impossible 1)
Does she even have a single line in this movie? All that’s memorable about her is the transition glasses she wears during the Prague mission. Glasses, I might add, that were so obviously spy gear that her cover should’ve been immediately blown. But she dies in a car explosion 10 minutes later so who’s complaining?


14.) Billy Baird (John Polson)
(Mission: Impossible 2)
It’s not a good look when you’re ranked below three characters that tried to kill Ethan Hunt, but here we are. Besides his skills flying a helicopter, which I don’t count because if I’m an IMF agent in need of a pilot I’m going Declan Gormley all day. So, I guess I can say he was maybe good acting like a waiter at a racetrack who stops a henchmen from getting Nyah Hall? See how that was a question instead of a statement? And oh my God, according to IMDB, this was supposed to be Steve Zahn. Oh the possibilities! Now I’m reeling.


13.) Claire Phelps (Emmanuelle Beart)
(Mission: Impossible 1)
Claire married Jim Phelps, who tried to frame then kill Hunt. She then recruited Kreiger, who tried to chop Hunt’s head off with a helicopter blade. And that was her on the low. Her actual special agent skills were, let me look at her IMF file here…”Getaway Driver on Husband’s Covert Missions” Wow. Impressive.

But the absolute worst thing she did, worse than even trying to kill Hunt, was playing with his heart. You just don’t do that to our sweet little Hunt. Especially when he’s in Mission-Mode. Wait, what? That happens in every movie? Okay fine.


12.) Sarah (Kristin Scott Thomas)
(Mission: Impossible 1)
Her low ranking is based solely on her lack of screen time. She’s better than Hannah, that’s for sure. Who’s Hannah? Great question. We’ll get there.

But Scott Thomas doesn’t waste a second of time here. She chums it up with Estevez (on my bucket list), snuggles Cruise in an alleyway (doesn’t seem all that bad okay fine that might be on my bucket list too), and she heroically tails a mysterious figure through the foggy streets of Prague – a scene, thanks to Scott Thomas especially – that is right out of a John Le Carre novel. There, I just dropped a Le Carre reference on you. Now I’m free to bring up more respectable things like Anaconda and Varsity Blues. Speaking of which…


11.) Jim Phelps (Jon Voight)
(Mission: Impossible 1)
It has to be hard to shoot yourself, cover yourself in blood, and fake your own death all while wearing glasses transmitting everything you see to the person you are trying to frame for your murder. It’s actually quite impressive. But this is a ranking of Ethan’s best IMF teammates, so Phelps is docked massive points for, you know, everything he does since his every action is an action against Hunt.

And can we take a step back and ask a real honest question: if we were ranking Voight’s best bad guy roles would this even make the top five? I say no. Real quick: Anaconda (he should’ve won an Oscar), Varsity Blues (he should’ve won an Oscar), Holes (don’t look at me like that), Heat (should’ve won best makeup), and Him In Real Life. See, not even in close.


10.) Krieger (Jean Reno)
(Mission: Impossible 1)
Here’s a take that will make you want to throw up: Krieger’s the unsung hero of the CIA break in. Try silently rappelling down a yoked-Cruise into a CIA vault all by yourself. That takes serious muscles. Did you know he was the ripped? I sure didn’t.

Even more impressive? As he was holding Hunt steady, he somehow killed a massive rat one-handed as it scurried towards him. That’s called multitasking. That’s called fighting battles on multiple fronts. That’s a true IMF agent.  

Sure, seconds later he dropped a knife into the room, completely ruining the mission and later tried to kill Hunt with the blades of a helicopter. Fine, I see that. But you have to at least give him credit for his part in the CIA heist, and for successfully flying a helicopter, attached to a speeding train, into a tunnel. That takes true skill. Not “Dumping Red Wine On Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s Tuxedo and Living to Tell the Tale”-type skill, but skill nonetheless.


9.) Jane (Paula Patton)
(Mission: Impossible 4)
Guess what Jane does after Hunt specifically tells her not to kill Sabine Moreau, the assasisin responsible for the death of a beloved IMF agent?

That’s right, she kicks Sabine out a window like Chun-Li in the final seconds of a Street Fighter 2 match. She blatantly went against Hunt’s orders, but even worse, she made it personal. Which, I guess shouldn’t be frowned upon since most (all) of  IMF’s missions ultimately turn personal, but her roundhouse kick nearly caused nuclear war. Putting her in the top ten is generous.


8.) Jack Harmon (Emilio Estevez)
(Mission: Impossible 1)
Be objective here, would you love this character as much if it weren’t Emilio Estevez? Imagine if it were another mid-90s character actor like, I dunno,  C. Thomas Howell.

Not as cool, right? If you wash away the Estevez luster (it’s hard, I know) you would see an IMF agent who specializes in hacking only to get out-hacked by Jon Voight. Just embarrassing. I’m not saying he deserved to die for that type of failure, but, I’m not not saying that either. Moving on!

7.) Nyah Hall (Thandie Newton)
(Mission: Impossible 2)
An impressive cat burglar who can crack any safe, even one hidden in a luxurious jacuzzi (that’s a collection of words that shouldn’t describe the most successful movie of 2000 but yeah, it was a weird time.) But the most impressive thing Nyah does is infect herself with a Chimera, a world-ending virus, to protect Hunt. That’s possibly the most heroic moment in the entire franchise and yet she doesn’t even crack the top five. That’s how bad MI2 is.


6.) Declan Gormley (Jonathan Rhys Meyers)
(Mission: Impossible 3)

MI3 is the first in the franchise to truly get the tone of the original tv show just right. And uh, I would know because I’ve seen absolutely zero episodes of the TV series. But it’s about a team of agents working together to stop bad guys, right? Right, exactly. There’s no better example of that than Declan, the ultimate glue guy. He can fake a traffic jam outside the Vatican without having a panic attack. He’ll drop everything and go against IMF orders to help save Hunt’s wife after she’s abducted. And, maybe most importantly, he can fly a helicopter through a wind farm at night while being chased by a bad guy chopper. How does IMF find these guys? Do they go over that in an IMF job interview? 

“Can you fly a helicopter?” Yes.
“At night?” Doy.
“Through a wind farm?” Wait, could that actually happen?!
“While another helicopter is blasting missiles at you?” Dude, I really need this job. So, yes?


5.) Brandt (Jeremy Renner)
(Mission: Impossible 4 & 5)

One would think Brandt would be higher on this list, especially since he’s one of the rare team members to appear in more than one movie, but does his first appearance in Ghost Protocol really count? Half the time he’s bummin’ around thinking he’s responsible for the death of Hunt’s wife. (MF’R, YOU REALLY THINK ETHAN WOULD LET HIS WIFE DIE?!) And when he’s not sad-sacking, he’s a dripping wet blanket, poo-pooing his team’s every out of the box idea to save the world. Go back to your cubicle, analyst.


4.) Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg)
(Mission: Impossible 3, 4, 5, 6)

Benji commits serious treason three times blindly helping Hunt when all evidence and intuition says he absolutely shouldn’t. So why isn’t he higher? Because when Hunt screams “OPEN THE DOOR!” while clinging to the door of an in flight Airbus 400, Benji confusedly opens the back bay doors instead of the one Hunt is holding to. What are we even doing here, Benji? I love that he passed all the exams and is now a field agent, but that’s a big f*** up.


3.) Zhen Lei (Maggie Q)
(Mission: Impossible 3)

Lei successfully executes the most harrowing stunt in the Mission: Impossible franchise: purposely spilling red wine all over Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s tuxedo at some big, swinging dick Vatican soiree. The fact that she survived that mission alone puts her in the top three and if she were in more than one movie she might’ve bumped Luther off the throne.


2.) Iisa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson)
(Mission: Impossible 5 & 6)

I can hear all you IMF Heads out there quibbling that Faust isn’t technically an IMF agent. And I respect your loyalty, I really do. But besides a new leather jacket, have you ever seen Hunt respect something so unconditionally as he does Faust?


1.) Luther (Ving Rhames)
(Mission: Impossible 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

Easy call, I know. As loyal as Luther is, and as many times as he’s secretly saved the world alongside his ride or die Ethan Hunt, Luther’s at the top of this list for one reason and one reason only: at the end of Mission: Impossible 1 he shares a pint with Hunt while listening to “Dreams” by The Cranberries. That’s a friend. That’s a teammate. That’s the type of IMF agent I’d go to war with.