“…your mission, should you choose to accept it…”

Like clockwork, these eight  words launch the fourth installment of the franchise with IMF agent, Ethan Hunt. Coming this winter on December 16, is Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol.

After a thoroughly entertaining first film (1996) directed by veteran Brian De Palma, the sequel (2000) under John Woo‘s direction was a mixed bag. The tone of the second movie was inopportune and barely held together with overly choreographed action sequencing. I don’t know if I inhaled some bad Sour Patch Kids in the movie theater or if I was just in an unsavory mood that day, but I wasn’t feeling that one. And let me preface that by declaring that I was a kid who grew up on Chow Yun Fat, Tony Leung, the A Better Tomorrow films, The Killer and Hard Boiled. I mean, these were staples at the local video store. There would not be Quentin Tarantino without those movies. How Hollywood can sap the soul out of talented and great people like John Woo and Chow Yun Fat.

The third film was a fun ride and was J.J. Abrams‘ feature directorial debut. In 2006, he went from the small screen to big-time moviemaking, this was a picture that launched his film career. Following the dropping out of David Fincher and Joe Carnahan, and after binge-watching the first two seasons of Alias, impressed, Tom Cruise offered Abrams the directing job. Although Abrams has only directed three films to date (Mission Impossible III, Star Trek, Super 8), it seems like Abrams has been in the business forever, always seeming to have his hands in every other production.

Abrams is returning as a co-writer and producer for this fourth Mission Impossible film. Unpredictably, Prince of Pixar, Brad Bird, was picked as the director. A very interesting choice; I am curious to see how his talent, skills and style will translate to a big live-action movie like this one.  He is currently batting 1.000 with The Iron Giant (1999), The Incredibles (2004) and Ratatouille (2007). I am betting on Brad Bird to pull this one off.

Also on board is a solid crew of talented and likable actors. Of course, Cruise is back to reprise his role as Ethan Hunt. You will see Tom Wilkinson; dry comedic actor, Simon Pegg, who steals every other scene he is in; Lost‘s Josh Holloway who is making his feature debut; comely and serviceable actor, Paula Patton, and Oscar-nominated dynamo, Jeremy Renner.

The formula remains the same, the IMF is shut down when it is implicated with some wrongdoing. This time, they are framed with the bombing of the Kremlin, forcing them to be disavowed. They are then hunted, causing Ethan Hunt and his new crew of agents to go rogue to clear their organization’s (IMF) name. We get to follow them, watch ’em pull of insane heists, get into double-triple-crosses, engage in Bourne-esque fight sequences, and cap it off with some maniacal stunt work on the tallest building in the world. Surprisingly (to me), I am kind of pumped to catch this one.

This tape will self-destruct in five seconds. Good luck, Moviegoers…

(click stills below to enlarge)

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol Thread