Thanks to Tom Cruise’s breathtaking practical stunt work, the past few Mission: Impossible movies have turned the franchise from a middle-of-the-road spy series to a must-see exercise in action blockbuster one-upmanship. Cruise is surrounded by fan-favorite supporting players, from Ving Rhames to Simon Pegg to Angela Bassett.
These actors have made some unforgettable action movies outside the M:I franchise. Rhames starred in Con Air, Pegg starred in Hot Fuzz, Bassett starred in Black Panther, and Cruise starred in the biggest movie of the year, Top Gun: Maverick.
10 Collateral (2004) – Starring Tom Cruise
Tom Cruise played wildly against type as a cold-hearted killer in Michael Mann’s slick neo-noir actioner Collateral. The movie is a tense two-hander in which Cruise plays an assassin with a bunch of jobs around Los Angeles and Jamie Foxx co-stars as the everyman cabbie whose taxi he commandeers for the night.
On top of the novelty of seeing Cruise play a sinister villain, Collateral has a compelling story to boot as he analyzes Foxx’s cab driver and forces him to confront the lies he tells himself.
9 Con Air (1997) – Starring Ving Rhames
Part of the fun of the Mission: Impossible series is its goofy, high-concept storytelling. The spy franchise isn’t Ving Rhames’ only foray into that action subgenre. Between turns as IMF tech expert Luther Stickell, Rhames appeared in the ensemble cast of Simon West’s pulpy, explosive actioner Con Air.
Nicolas Cage stars as a wrongly convicted prisoner whose scheduled release is complicated when a plane full of fellow jailbirds is hijacked by career criminal Cyrus “The Virus” Grissom. Rhames plays Cyrus’ second-in-command, “Diamond Dog.”
8 No Time To Die (2021) – Starring Léa Seydoux
The Mission: Impossible franchise owes a lot to the James Bond franchise, and Léa Seydoux has appeared in both. She played assassin Sabine Moreau opposite Cruise’s Ethan Hunt in Ghost Protocol and she played love interest Dr. Madeleine Swann opposite Daniel Craig’s Bond in Spectre and No Time to Die.
007 has only fallen in love a couple of times throughout the run of the series, and he’s only fathered a child once. In No Time to Die, he poignantly gives his life to save Madeleine and their daughter Mathilde.
7 Black Panther (2018) – Starring Angela Bassett
The same year that she started playing CIA Director Erika Sloane in the Mission: Impossible franchise, the legendary Angela Bassett also started playing Queen Ramonda in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with her turn in the triumphant Black Panther.
With Ryan Coogler in the director’s chair and the late, great Chadwick Boseman in the title role, Black Panther is a thrilling comic book actioner, a cultural landmark, and a quintessential “hero’s journey” narrative.