It has become a bit of tradition. Four Mission: Impossible films have been directed by four different directors since 1996, each putting a distinct stamp on the hard-charging espionage franchise. And while a fifth M:I movie seems all but inevitable, we won’t have Ghost Protocol director Brad Bird at the helm.
While promoting the Blu-ray and DVD release of his outstanding spy sequel (pick up a copy, if you haven’t already), Bird tells Crave Online that he will not return to the series, because to do so would break from the established formula.
“I think that one of the things that’s fun about the series is that they always pull in a different director and try to get a different kind of take on the premise,” Bird said. “I’d probably be open to looking at it, but I think that part of one of the successes of the franchises is that they’re always reassessing it with a new director. That was one of the things that attracted me to it. It’s not a franchise where it was about dismissing your style in order to get the style of the franchise. It was more about [having] each director influence the franchise. Because whatever you think about the Mission: Impossible films, they don’t look like they were made by the same person. They’re the same premise and the same lead actor and all of that, but they feel like four distinctly different movies, style-wise.”
So while we’re disappointed to see Bird go – his Ghost Protocol set pieces, particularly the Burj Khalifa wall walk, were mesmerizing – it could be fun to speculate on his possible replacement?
How about Gareth Hew Evans? His festival favorite The Raid has earned critical acclaim for its reinvention of the elaborate fight sequence. Virtually every review praised the film as one of the greatest action films of the last few decades … which had to catch Tom Cruise’s eye as he sets out in search of a new collaborator. Evans could even bring Raid star Iko Uwais over as an adversary for Cruise’s indestructible IMF agent, Ethan Hunt.
Prefer an old-school choice? That’s not out of this franchise’s realm. After all, ‘80s cult icon Brian De Palma appeared to be an offbeat choice back in 1996, yet he got the series off on a strong, shadowy foot. Could Die Hard director John McTiernan or Lethal Weapon helmer Richard Donner do the same? Then again, neither has worked in nearly a decade, so perhaps it’s time to take their names out of the hopper.
Then there’s always the safe choice for the studio to make: Martin Campbell. Sure, he fumbled The Green Lantern, but Campbell has delivered two of the most enjoyable James Bond adventures of the past 20 years in GoldenEye and Casino Royale, and might want a crack at Hunt, Hollywood’s other notable spy.
Cruise and Paramount should continue to think outside of the box, though, as they did when they hired a television director (J.J. Abrams) and an animator (Bird). Grab an up-and-coming female action director. Hand the reigns over to a medium-profile foreign director who’s ready to break it big on the U.S. film market. If Cruise were smart – and he is – he’d be on the phone with Sleepless Night director Frédéric Jardin as you are reading this, because once people get to see his French action thriller, they’re going to want to know what he’s up to next.
Wouldn’t it be exciting to announce that Jardin’s upcoming project was Mission: Impossible 5?