The Mission: Impossible movie franchise is one that tries to reinvent itself with every installment, with big-name directors such as Brian DePalma, John Woo, JJ Abrams and Brad Bird.

But one thing has remained consistent throughout the 20-year-old franchise: Ethan Hunt is probably the unluckiest spy in the history of cinema.

Yes, this list will contain SPOILERS. You have been duly notified. It will now self-destruct in five seconds.

Betrayed by mentor

I actually use this to light birthday candles... ©Paramount Pictures
“I actually use this to light birthday candles.” ©Paramount Pictures

Jim Phelps (Jon Voight) was leader and mentor to Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt. Then Phelps defected, left his team dead within the first 20 minutes of the movie and set up Hunt as the fall guy.

Disavowed and hunted by the very agency he works for, I’m surprised that Hunt even went back to work for them after this movie.

Plus, it was 1996, so Hunt was forced to trawl through old-school forums to find allies/the bad guy. And probably on a dial-up connection too. Man, that was tough.

Girlfriend forced to seduce bad guy

"Dove doesn't dry your skin like soap" ©Paramount Pictures
“Dove doesn’t dry your skin like soap.” ©Paramount Pictures

It just so happens that Nyah (Thandie Newton), Hunt’s latest squeeze, is the ex-girlfriend of bad guy and former IMF agent Sean Ambrose (Dougray Scott, the man who might have been Wolverine). It also happens that Ambrose wants to release a deadly virus in Australia.

So the IMF decides that the best way to stop Ambrose is to send Nyah to seduce Ambrose and steal the virus.

And when Hunt protests that Nyah has no training, Mission Commander Swanbeck’s (an uncredited Anthony Hopkins) response is priceless: “To go to bed with a man and lie to him? She’s a woman, she has all the training she needs.”

That was a pretty d*ck move, IMF.

Betrayed by handler

Mission: Impossible 3
“Hello, McDonald’s home delivery?” ©Paramount Pictures

Hunt is pulled out of retirement by good friend and handler Musgrave (Billy Crudup) to rescue former trainee Lindsey Farris (Keri Russell).

Turns out the one in collusion with the villain is Musgrave himself, causing not only the death of said trainee but the capture and torture of Ethan’s new wife Julia (Michelle Monaghan).

Hunt did get to cavort with Monaghan though, so that wasn’t too bad. Although he did have to contend with Abrams’ endless lens flares.

Gadgets don’t work

Mission: Impossible
“These gloves don’t match my glasses.” ©Paramount Pictures

When in a tight spot, you can always count on IMF technology to fail on Hunt, whether it be the suction climbing gloves while scaling the Burj Khalifa or the facial reconstruction masks used to impersonate their latest target.

But it really shouldn’t come as a surprise, coming from a company whose main product line is coupled with an audio recording that says “This tape will self destruct in five seconds”.

Disavowed ALL the damn time

Mission: Impossible
If I had a dollar for every time Ethan was disavowed… ©Paramount Pictures

Whenever an IMF agent is compromised, they are classified as “Disavowed”, and the IMF renounces all association with him/her. Hunt is the probably the top contender for most number of disavowals in the history of the IMF.

Out of five movies (including the upcoming one), he’s been disavowed four times. With his latest venture, he even manages to get the entire IMF agency disavowed. That really takes a special kind of talent.

With his ‘stellar’ track record, it is a mystery as to why ANY secret agency would still want to hire Hunt, let alone work with him. Not to mention all the trust issues he would have developed after practically having the rug pulled right out from under him all the time.

Mission: Impossible
Tom immediate regretted pigging out during Taco Tuesdays ©Paramount Pictures

Having said that, the Mission: Impossible franchise has garnered a total of US$2.1 billion in box office receipts, so I don’t think they’ll tinker with this winning formula anytime soon.

So be ready to catch the unluckiest spy in his 5th outing of misgivings and mishaps. I’m sure lots of awful things will happen to Hunt.

The Mission Impossible 5: Rogue Nation Singapore release date has been set for this Thursday, July 30. Look out for my review!

Is Ethan Hunt simply the most suay spy alive? Tell us!