While promoting his new film Knight & Day with MTV, Tom Cruise was able to chat briefly about his return to the role of super-spy Ethan Hunt in the upcoming Mission: Impossible IV. Specifically, he discussed what director Brad Bird is bringing to the table for the franchise's latest installment:
"If you really know his work the guy is just extraordinary... You look at 'The Incredibles', his action is... incredible, but it's really like live-action. He's got an incredible sense of story and wit. J.J. and I are producing it together, and we're really excited about it. It's going to be fun."
Despite the film being Bird's first foray into live-action, Cruise seems enthusiastic about his involvement and I have to admit it may be the most interesting part of this project for me at the moment. Cruise also discussed the importance of bringing a new director on board for each film:
My whole thing with the series is always having a new director come on and put their stamp on 'Mission: Impossible'. Brian DePalma was first, then John Woo, J.J. Abrams and now Brad Bird, so it will be Brad Bird's 'Mission: Impossible.'"
There's no doubt Brad Bird is an extremely talented storyteller and filmmaker and I'm hoping the skill he exhibits in crafting his animated features translates to live-action as well. I echo Cruise's sentiment that this is a guy who really knows how to stage an action scene. In the age of shaky-cams and quick cuts, it's refreshing to find a filmmaker who understands how to establish geography, choreograph the proceedings in a way that is coherent and easy to follow, and is constantly raising the stakes for the characters involved.
The Incredibles is a perfect example of action that results as an extension of the story and actually helps develop the characters. If Bird can bring those same sensibilities to the Mission: Impossible franchise then perhaps the fourth time will be the charm.
In my opinion, the first three Mission Impossible entries all showed promise of a better film trying to burst out from between the seams, which never quite got there. In fact, I personally think the Vatican City sequence in the third movie is the only moment in any of these films that truly embodies the spirit of the old television show, and shows how fun one of these outings could be if handled correctly.
How do you feel about Brad Bird stepping into the director's chair? Is it too little too late for this franchise or are you expecting another solid Mission: Impossible entry? Sound off below.
Mission: Impossible IV is scheduled to hit theaters December 16th, 2011.