The cast of Mission: Impossible 4 – which Tom Cruise recently announced will be titled The Mission – continues to grow and now counts Russian thespian Vladimir Mashkov amongst its ranks.  Meanwhile, Swedish actor Michael Nyqvist is reportedly holding talks to sign on as the diabolical antagonist of the film,which will reboot the franchise with the intention of Jeremy Renner taking over leading man duties from Cruise in future installments.

Brad Bird (The Incredibles) will try his hand at helming a live-action adventure with Mission: Impossible 4, which What’s Playing claims will likely not end up being titled The Mission at the end of the day.  Filming is set to take place in Prague, Dubai, and Vancouver, so it comes as little shock that the cast will include a number of non-American players.

Mashkov received numerous accolades for his performance in the Oscar-nominated Russian film, The Thief, and is best known in the U.S. as the villain in the 2001 action movie Behind Enemy Lines.  He will unsurprisingly play a Russian agent in the fourth Mission: Impossible.

Nyqvist starred as Mikael Blomkvist in the original Swedish film adaptation of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.  His costar from that feature, Noomi Rapace, was being considered for a role in the new Mission flick last month, but the actress decided to pass on the globe-trotting actioner and signed up for Sherlock Holmes 2 instead.  An onscreen reunion between Nyqvist and Rapace would have been fun for Dragon Tattoo fans to see, but will have to wait for another day.

Rapace and Nyqvist in ‘The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.’

Mission: Impossible 4 has gone – in the eyes of this writer – from sounding like a tired new entry in a satisfactory franchise to looking better and better by the day.  Bird has done marvelous work at Pixar and his eye for richly-realized animation should come in handy while directing this big-budget action project.  Nyqvist in particular is a solid character actor and would make for a fine addition to the film’s cast, which includes solid supporting talent (and franchise veterans) like Ving Rhames and Simon Pegg.

The question now is whether or not moviegoers are still excited to see the continuing adventures of Ethan Hunt and his new supporting crew of IMF agents.  Anticipation for the film would undoubtedly be helped with the release of a good trailer – once there is actually footage to show off, naturally.

Mission: Impossible 4 is slated to begin shooting at the end of this year and will arrive in theaters in the U.S. on December 16th, 2011.

Source: The Wrap, What’s Playing (via The Playlist)