While you get ready to have your mind blown by Inception, the Hollywood machine keeps moving forward — always looking for the next summer blockbuster. Or in this case: sequel. Well, third sequel to be exact. Despite the lackluster performance of Knight & Day, Paramount has reiterated their commitment to Tom Cruise and Mission: Impossible IV. There are caveats, of course — namely being how Knight & Day can perform in foreign territories to off-set the losses taken domestically — but consider this as set in stone as any other Hollywood casting story. Umm, on second thought, maybe Tom should get those headshots ready.
Still, assuming everything goes off without a hitch, we’ll see Cruise flash his smile as Ethan Hunt once again. But what can make that movie succeed in ways Knight & Day couldn’t — besides the warm embrace of the familiar? Here are some suggestions.
Hire a new director
God love Brad Bird for giving us two of the most fully realized animated films in the last twenty years (those being Iron Giant and The Incredibles). But if you were Paramount and Tom Cruise, would you want an inexperienced live-action director fronting the very risky Mission: Impossible IV or would you want someone else. Joe Carnahan was famously hired for M:I III and subsequently let go after a year — make the decision quicker this time around. Dump Bird and grab either Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead) or Rueben Fleischer (Zombieland), the two men he reportedly beat out for the position. Short of them, hiring an old pro wouldn’t hurt either — perhaps Cruise’s old pal Tony Scott.
Embrace Tom’s Age
Tom Cruise is far from old –he just turned 48 last week — but in Hollywood years, he might as well be a dinosaur. And while audiences have no problem watching May-December romances play out, it’s sometimes harder to swallow that someone near 50 could be jumping away from explosions. How to fix this unavoidable glitch? Write the script around it! Make Cruise’s Ethan Hunt older, more fallable, less invincible. The reason why the first Mission: Impossible worked so well was because it felt like there were stakes; the second and third films felt like Road Runner cartoons. Have Hunt be a settled down family man and office drone tasked to one last mission. Besides, he’s getting to old for this — well, you know. And speaking of which…
Bring on a Younger Assistant
Since Mission: Impossible IV became a somewhat reality, most observers have felt that a “passing of the torch” moment was needed. And you know what? It is! Partner Cruise’s Hunt up with a young and dashing IMF agent and play off the comedy of their mismatched union. Just don’t cast Shia LaBeouf and don’t make it like Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Star Trek actor Chris Pine would work — as would Jake Gyllenhaal or Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Or, go for broke and give Taylor Lautner a call. Because when it comes to box office success, everyone is on Team Jacob.