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The Fast & the Furious vs. Mission: Impossible: which one is better?

The year is 2023, and the Fast & Furious and Mission: Impossible franchises are still as popular and successful as ever. Debuting in 2001, The Fast and the Furious has spawned 11 films, grossed almost $7 billion worldwide, and catapulted Vin Diesel from the compassionate solider who died in Saving Private Ryan to an international action superstar. Since 1996’s Mission: Impossible, the six films have grossed over $3.5 billion and reaffirmed Tom Cruise as the world’s biggest movie star.

This past weekend saw the release of Fast X, the 10th installment in the main saga, which opened to $319 million globally. In two months, Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One will most likely be the first film in the franchise to gross over $1 billion worldwide. With these two franchises still at the top of their games, which one has the upper hand? From their characters to stunt work, one of these long-running franchise stands above the other as we break it all down below.

Which one is better: Ethan Hunt or Dom Toretto?

Vin Diesel leans against a car in Fast X.
Universal Pictures

In one corner, you have Dominic Toretto (Diesel), the honorable leader of the Fast & Furious franchise with an undying loyalty to Corona, sleeveless shirts, and most importantly, family. In the other corner stands Ethan Hunt (Cruise), who continues to save the world with one death-defying mission after another. Both men are promising leaders as they bring out the best in their crews. They are also willing to put their lives on the line and sacrifice their well-being to protect the ones they love.

Dom once crashed his charger into a helicopter to defeat a mercenary that would use a sophisticated computer program to take over the world. Ethan once chased down a helicopter and defeated an assassin on the edge of a cliff to stop a bomb that would take out one-third of the world’s population. One feels comfortable behind the wheel of a car, while the other feels most at peace while freefalling through the air. Both Dom and Ethan have saved the world multiple times, so it’s unfair to reward one man over the other.

Winner: Both Mission: Impossible and The Fast & the Furious.

Which franchise has the better supporting cast?

A family has a dinner outside in Fast X.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

A leader is only as good as their team, and both Dom and Ethan have some of the smartest and strongest teammates in the world. Dom’s crew has evolved over the years, but the mainstays have been Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson), Tej Parker (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges), Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez), Mia (Jordana Brewster), Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel), and Han (Sung Kang). The chemistry between this unit is undeniable, as they add the perfect blend of seriousness with humorous one-liners. Ethan’s crew is much smaller but just as effective. Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) has been with Ethan since the very beginning and remains his closest friend. Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) is the second-most tenured member of the team who is as nerdy as he is funny. Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) rounds out the squad, who is arguably as talented of an agent as Ethan.

The Mission: Impossible team sticks to their roles. Luther is the computer technician, Benji is the genius, and Ilsa is on the front lines with Ethan. It’s rare for this team to step out of their roles. However, the Fast & Furious team is extremely versatile. Besides Roman, every member of Dom’s team combines brains and brawn. They’re all slick behind the wheel of a car and can hold their own in fights, and this versatility is the difference maker.

Winner: The Fast & the Furious.

Which franchise has the better stunts?

Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One | The Biggest Stunt in Cinema History (Tom Cruise)

The Fast & Furious stunts are borderline impossible in every sense of the word. Could a Pontiac Fiero fly in space? It’s technically possible but unlikely. Frankly, the Fast & Furious elected to leave the real world when Dom drove a Lykan HyperSport between hundred-foot-tall skyscrapers. This isn’t a knock against the franchise, by the way. Ridiculous, over-the-top action sequences are what fans have come to expect in Fast & Furious‘ two-decade run.

Yet, compared to the stunts in Mission Impossible, it’s similar to bringing a knife to a gunfight. Mission: Impossible is known for its stunts and realistic action scenes. Cruise takes pride in doing all of his stunts. When Hunt scales the Burj Khalifa building in Ghost Protocol, it’s Cruise doing the climbing. When Hunt recklessly flies a helicopter to chase down Henry Cavill’s August Walker, it’s Cruise doing the flying. When Hunt drives his motorcycle off a mountain and parachutes to safety, you better believe it’s CruiseJohn Wick versus Mission: Impossible would be a more evenly matched fight in stunt work.

Winner: Mission: Impossible.

Which franchise has the better movies?

Tom Cruise looks and stares in Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One.
Paramount Pictures

Both Fast & Furious and Mission: Impossible have incredible highs when determining the best movies in the franchise. Fast Five and Mission: Impossible – Fallout are frequently mentioned in conversations for best action films of the last 15 years. When comparing the franchises’ second-best films, which are likely the first movies in each saga, Mission: Impossible is a better film than The Fast and the Furious. However, Furious 7, the Fast Saga’s third-best film, is arguably better than the third-best Mission: Impossible film, which is probably Rogue Nation.

However, this is where Mission: Impossible holds the edge over Fast & Furious. The bottom-tier Mission Impossible films are better than the worst Fast & Furious entries. Mission: Impossible 2 is not good. Neither is Mission: Impossible III, but the third film has the incomparable Philip Seymour Hoffman giving a heat-check performance for the ages as the villainous Owen Davian. Nothing from The Fast Saga’s worst movies(Tokyo DriftFast & Furious, The Fate of the Furious) has anything that can be mentioned in the same sentence as Hoffman.

Winner: Mission: Impossible.

Who is the winner?

A man holds his hands up in the air in Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning Part One.
Paramount Pictures.

Both franchises have given fans plenty of action and happy memories for nearly 30 years. At the end of the day, there’s only one man who risks his life to entertain audiences, and that’s Mr. Cruise. The Mission: Impossible films have only improved critically and financially with each new entry.

The same can’t be said for Fast & Furious, which probably peaked from films five through seven. Hopefully, Cruise continues to cheat death and make more Mission: Impossible movies for the world to enjoy.

Winner: Mission: Impossible.

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Dan Girolamo
Dan is a passionate and multitalented content creator with experience in pop culture, entertainment, and sports. Throughout…
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