By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist April 18, 2012 at 10:00AM
Early this week, Brad Bird confirmed, via an interview with Crave, what many had long assumed: despite "Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol" being the most successful entry in the franchise to date, the Pixar veteran will not be returning for another crack at the Tom Cruise-led spy series, saying that, "I think that one of the things that’s fun about the series is that they always pull in a different director and try to get a different kind of take on the premise."
With Paramount keen to get the balling rolling on the next entry after the $700 million success of 'Ghost Protocol' -- and hoping to avoid the five year gap between the last couple of movies -- it likely won't be long before the search for a helmer begins in earnest. Of course, Paramount may not have much say in the hiring of the director: Cruise has always led this series, and he's one of the few stars who gets carte blanche when it comes to hiring the man behind the camera.
So who's a realistic choice? This isn't a Marvel sequel, where a relatively unknown, cheap TV director tops the list, but it's also the fifth installment of a franchise, so we're not going to see Christopher Nolan or James Cameron in the running, exactly. On the last film, Cruise met with Edgar Wright and Ruben Fleischer before Bird landed the gig, while David Fincher and Joe Carnahan were attached to the third film before J.J. Abrams made his feature debut with the project, so we'd expect a similar calibre of names to come up here. It remains to be seen if Abrams and his Bad Robot shingle will remain involved as producers, but assuming he does, here are five filmmakers who we think could feasibly take on "Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol; Electric Boogaloo = Tokyo Drift." Or whatever it ends up being called.
Why He Could Do It: 31-year-old Indonesian-based Welsh expat Evans was virtually unknown even six months ago, but has since become the hottest thing in the action cinema world in years. Evans made his debut in 2009 with "Merantau," which picked up fans at home and abroad, and then he reteamed with star Iko Uwais for "The Raid," which premiered at TIFF last year to rave reactions. Utilizing an Indonesian form of martial arts called Silat, it displays spectacular choreography and camera work, and has been acclaimed as one of the best action movies since at least "Die Hard." So why wouldn't Cruise want to work with Evans? Given that the actor's famed for doing as many of his own stunts as possible, the approach by Evans seems right up his alley and bringing in the filmmaker would give the next 'Mission Impossible' the 'spectacular' factor it's built on. Evans is young, hungry and unlikely to break the bank, and could continue to keep the franchise healthy creatively and financially.
Why He Might Not: Last time Cruise hired an director of Asian action movies to make one of these films, we got John Woo's "Mission: Impossible II," by some distance the worst in the series. Evans undoubtedly has action chops, but the series has never featured martial arts as a cornerstone of the franchise -- will he be able to cope with car chases and dangling from buildings on a much bigger scale in the same way, this early in his career? Also, he hasn't worked within the studio machine or battled star egos at this point either. But more importantly, he's planning on shooting "The Raid" follow-up "Berendal" towards the end of this year. Depending on Paramount's timetable, that could rule him out altogether.
Why He Could Do It: Over the last decade, Favreau's become one of the most reliable names in the blockbuster world. After "Elf," and the underseen "Zathura," he helped turn the Marvel movies into the juggernauts they are today with "Iron Man" and its less-liked, but equally successful follow-up. These films have displayed the kind of action skills, ability for wit and giant scope that Cruise and co. are surely after here. As directors go, he's closer to a Bird or an Abrams than a John Woo (indeed, he's tight with the Bad Robot crew), and after the disappointment of "Cowboys & Aliens," could use a guaranteed hit to put him back on top. The tone of the franchise, and of a spy movie in general, seems like something he'd have a lot of fun with, too.
Why He Might Not: A year ago, we'd have thought that Favreau would be too big for something like this, after the two "Iron Man" movies. And it's possible he may still think that: taking over someone else's franchise isn't necessarily a huge boon for someone who's already created one massive one. One wonders if he's the kind of person that Cruise would get truly excited about as the star has generally gone with relatively young, new faces for the people he's courted for the "Mission: Impossible" movies: Abrams, Joe Carnahan, Edgar Wright, Ruben Fleischer etc, whereas Favreau is now an old hand. Plus the director's been developing "Magic Kingdom" at Disney for over a year and while word has been quiet on that for a while, it could get the greenlight at any moment.