The December release Jack Reacher could launch a new franchise for Tom Cruise. However, even if audiences aren't receptive to the actor's interpretation of Lee Child's character, he still has Mission: Impossible. In fact, after the series-high critical and financial success of Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol last winter (it's also Cruise's highest-grossing film worldwide, when not adjusted for inflation), there's arguably more demand than ever for more of Ethan Hunt's death-defying antics.
Cruise is working on All You Need Is Kill right now, but he has several projects lined up for the future (more on that later). Mission: Impossible 5, as it were, remains a priority for the 50-year old A-lister, who has begun to work on ideas for the story and set pieces that will feature in the film (which Cruise doesn't plan on making the last installment).
Ghost Protocol features the most elaborately-staged and massive set pieces in the Mission: Impossible franchise so far, with the standout moments including a chase sequence during a massive Dubai sandstorm and Cruise's legitimate climb up the Burj Khalifa (which is the tallest building in the world). Big spectacle and thrills set against exotic backdrops have always been what this series does best; that's why Cruise is already scouting out possible locations and ideas for the fifth movie (as he told Total Film):
“We’re already working on different images. Talking conceptually. I love travelling around promoting different movies because I’m always looking at different places, and I always walk around to see the city. I look at architecture, subways… coming up with different sequences.”
Cruise gained notice from critics when he abandoned his action hero persona to play the narcissistic rocker Stacee Jaxx in Rock of Ages earlier this year, but that jukebox musical (as a whole) didn't resonate with the majority of moviegoers; for better or for worse, he isn't going to be as adventurous in the foreseeable future. The actor is instead sticking closer to his guns by working on potential blockbusters like a reboot of the Van Helsing franchise, the high-concept sci-fi flick Our Name is Adam, and the previously-mentioned All You Need Is Kill (a humans vs. aliens thriller with a Groundhog Day twist).
Nonetheless, Cruise says he is satisfied with the reception to his work as Ethan Hunt and does not have plans to retire the character sooner, rather than later:
“Seeing an audience respond… to have that experience is really wonderful. I started [the 'Mission: Impossible' franchise] hoping I could make many of them. [Hunt is] character that I can grow with. At that time it was the most expensive film in the history of Paramount Pictures, and the first film I was producing.
"It’s been pretty exciting. I’ll make a bunch of those. I’ll make as many as people want to see... because they’re very challenging, and so much fun to make.”
Each installment in the Mission: Impossible series has featured a different director, each armed with their own identifiable style and approach to storytelling - varying from John Woo's over-Expressive approach to action on the second installment, to Brad Bird infusing buoyant energy into the familiar proceedings with Ghost Protocol. That has indeed allowed the Hunt character to continuously evolve from film to film, as each director has collaborated with Cruise in order to create a unique interpretation of the IMF agent (while also taking the actor's changing age into consideration).
There is currently no director officially set for Mission: Impossible 5; moreover, as was brought up before, Cruise has several other films vying for his attention after he finishes starring in All You Need Is Kill, so the production timeline is fairly open right now. Paramount previously announced the actor would be appearing in Top Gun 2 before the fifth Mission, but the tragic suicide of director Tony Scott has left the state of the former sequel very much up in the air.
Five years passed between the release of J.J. Abrams' Mission: Impossible III and Bird's Ghost Protocol, but expect a shorter wait for the fifth one (especially since Cruise isn't getting any younger). As always, we will keep you posted on the status of Mission: Impossible 5 as more information come our way.
Source: Total Film