The Stunning Locations of 'Mission: Impossible'

Ancient water town boat on a canal location for film Mission Impossible III, Xitang, Zhejiang, China | © Dennis Cox / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Cassam Looch
Social Editor26 July 2018

In this Culture Trip video exclusive, Tom Cruise and his co-stars talk through some of the spectacular locations seen in Mission: Impossible – Fallout. Explore these, and other unforgettable Mission: Impossible settings, with us now.

Preikestolen, one of the most iconic tourist spots in Norway, provides a perfect backdrop for the cliffhanger finale of Mission: Impossible – Fallout, while the bustling streets of Paris give the stars a chance to show off their driving skills.

Mission: Impossible is about immersing an audience into these places, and celebrating the geography of the environments we’re in,” says Tom Cruise. Here’s a closer look at the locations used in each of the six Mission: Impossible movies.

Tom Cruise stars as Ethan Hunt in ‘Mission: Impossible – Fallout’ | © Paramount Pictures

‘Mission: Impossible‘ (1996)

The first Mission: Impossible film, released in 1996, was something of an unexpected hit. Cruise was as popular as ever, but the TV remake fad had produced some mixed results. What made Mission: Impossible stand out, however, was the globetrotting adventures of Cruise and his IMF (Impossible Mission Force). The opening scenes were set and shot in Prague, taking in the moonlit Charles Bridge and a memorable escape on foot across Wenceslas Square in the heart the city.

A visually spectacular Eurostar sequence was largely shot on sound stages just outside of London, but scenes in Langley, Virginia, (which include the famous heist-on-a-rope stunt) were partly filmed on location.

The first ‘Mission: Impossible‘ film was something of an unexpected hit | © Paramount Pictures

Locations: Prague, London, Washington DC and Virginia.

‘Mission: Impossible II’ (2000)

The Mission: Impossible sequel opened with Cruise scaling the impressive rocks of Dead Horse Point in Utah. The vertigo-inducing scenes signalled a new series trademark of Cruise putting himself in outlandish situations. Director John Woo expressed his concerns about the star doing the stunt himself, but Cruise was adamant he would take it on. The star’s eagerness to perform real-life stunts – in real-life settings – means there are virtually no limits for the Mission: Impossible location scouts.

Tom Cruise really did scale this rock face at Dead Horse Point in ‘Mission: Impossible II’ | © Paramount Pictures

Locations: Sydney, Utah and various other locations around Australia and the USA.

‘Mission: Impossible III’ (2006)

The third film in this series is something of an oddity. The action is ramped up, but the tone is a lot darker. However, location hopping is still a key theme in Mission: Impossible III. Cruise and co find themselves in Berlin on a complicated mission at the start of the movie. There are extensive scenes in China, including a leap into the unknown in Shanghai, and a protracted sequence in Vatican City. Philip Seymour Hoffman plays the villain, and his escape involves an elaborate action scene set on the bridges of Virginia Beach in the USA.

Cruise and co find themselves in Berlin in ‘Mission: Impossible III’ | © Paramount Pictures

Locations: Xitang and Shanghai in China, Virginia Beach, Berlin and Italy.

‘Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol’ (2011)

Ghost Protocol feels like the most global film in the series. At times, the transitions feel a little clunky as we are hurled from Eastern Europe to India to the Middle East, but there are some standout moments. A particular highlight is the scene shot along the facade of the impressive Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Cruise is seen swinging from the side of the tallest building in the world, once again doing many of the stunts for real.

A particular highlight of ‘Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol’ is the scene at the Burj Khalifa in Dubai | © Paramount Pictures

Locations: Mumbai, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, Budapest, Moscow, Canada and the Czech Republic.

‘Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation’ (2015)

We spoke to one of the stunt coordinators responsible for the chase scenes in some Mission: Impossible movies, and discovered that the vehicular action on the narrow streets is among the most difficult types of sequence to film. In Rogue Nation, we see Cruise take to two wheels and race around the streets of Morocco in a thrilling sequence.

There’s a great scene involving Rebecca Ferguson in Vienna, too, but the series always manages to find a way back to its London roots, and Rogue Nation is no exception. Keep an eye out for an early moment in Piccadilly Circus around the old red light district of Soho.

Tom Cruise takes to two wheels in ‘Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation’ | © Bo Bridges/Paramount Pictures

Locations: Morocco, Vienna, Kuala Lumpur and various UK locations.

‘Mission: Impossible – Fallout’ (2018)

“The language of Mission: Impossible is about going to real locations,” says director Christopher McQuarrie, and proof is to be found in the filmmaker’s second film in the series.

From a high-flying helicopter stunt across New Zealand to weaving against the flow of traffic around the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, Fallout is all about putting the characters in spectacular locations around the world. Cruise even injured himself when attempting a leap between two buildings in London – and they kept the scene in the movie.

‘Fallout‘ is all about putting the characters in spectacular locations around the world | © Paramount Pictures

Locations: Preikestolen in Norway, Queenstown, London and Paris.

Looking for more from Mission: Impossible? Check out our interviews with Fallout stars Henry Cavill and Simon Pegg.

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