By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com April 18, 2012 at 10:00AM
Why He Could Do It: Previously best-known for low-key comedy work, French writer/director Jardin, like Evans, turned heads late last year when his low-budget international action movie premiered at TIFF and then made its way to Fantastic Fest. "Sleepless Night," is a gripping, confined actioner about a corrupt cop who must fight his way through a nightclub in order to rescue his kidnapped son. The film picked up rave reviews on the festival circuit, was a box-office hit at home, and has already been snapped up for a remake, and we're sure that Jardin will end up on plenty of wishlists like this for action movies. "Sleepless Night" is deftly shot and paced, but also makes sure to put character and stakes first, and its the same principle that Cruise has lent towards for the last couple of films in the 'Mission' franchise.
Why He Might Not: Like Evans, Jardin's film is a stripped-down, minimalist actioner in a contained location, far from the cityscapes and gadgetery of the tentpole "Mission: Impossible" movies, and those involved might be a little nervous about letting him loose with that kind of budget. Moreover, would there be enough wow factor in the hire, as well? Even Abrams was virtually a household name when he got the gig thanks to his extensive television work, but the moviegoing public are less than familiar with Jardin. He'd be a hip choice, but not necessarily one that could bring in audiences in the way that Woo or Bird could (then again, Bird wasn't exactly front-and-center in the marketing of 'Ghost Protocol,' so the point may be moot).
Why He Could Do It: Perhaps the most successful person to have broken out of the Bad Robot stable (beside J.J. Abrams, of course), Reeves co-created "Felicity," and went on to direct "Cloverfield" before surprising many with the excellent "Let Me In." That film seems to have landed him at the top of many wishlists: he was up for "The Wolverine," has several other projects in the works, and landed the prime gig of directing a big-screen version of "The Twilight Zone" for Warner Bros and Appian Way, a project that Christopher Nolan, Alfonso Cuaron and Rupert Wyatt were all sought for. The visual skill he brought to a set-piece like the crash in "Let Me In" would be invaluable for the "Mission: Impossible" franchise: he's someone who can deliver suspense and scale with ease. And given his pre-existing relationship with Abrams, he'd fit in right at home, assuming the next installment stays within the Bad Robot stable.
Why He Might Not: Besides "The Twilight Zone," Reeves has a strong handful of movies percolating in the background (the vampire pic "The Passage"; Frankenstein tale "This Dark Endeavor"; the sci-fi "8 O'Clock In The Morning"; his long-developing dream project "The Invisible Woman" among others) and it remains to be seen which of them will go next or when. Furthermore, he put himself out of the running to make "The Wolverine," which may suggest a reluctance to take on pre-existing franchises. He's lent towards sci-fi and horror so far, too: would he really be happy on a relatively straightforward spy actioner?
Why They Could Do It: Who? Well, Stephen St. Leger & James Mather are the Irish filmmakers (also known as Saint & Mather) who gained a ton of experience in commercials and their low-budget sci-fi short "Prey Alone," before Luc Besson snapped them up to write and direct the actioner "Lockout," which opened this past weekend. The film, starring Guy Pearce as a rogue blackmailed into rescuing the president's daughter from a prison space station, was surprisingly well-received, with many calling it a guilty pleasure, impressed with what the directors achieved on a relatively meagre budget. Like Louis Leterrier and Pierre Morel before them, it seems that working in the Besson factory is going to move them swiftly up the ladder, and we'd be very surprised if they don't start cropping up on wishlists like these. They pulled off action (including lots of 'Mission: Impossible'-esque dangling) with aplomb and irreverence, as well as showcasing a real star turn with Pearce's performance, and providing some memorable villains (something that 'Ghost Protocol' sorely lacked).
Why They Might Not: They're certain to be on wishlists, for sure, but they feel more like "Clash Of The Titans 3" material than 'Mission: Impossible.' "Lockout" was fun, but it was pulpy, John Carpenter aping-fun, and they seem like an awkward fit in a way that, say, Joe Cornish wouldn't be. The film was pretty derivative, and it remains to be seen if the duo have any good ideas that aren't borrowed heavily from other movies. And as much as Cruise is a keen scout of new talent, we're not sure it was the kind of film that gets him excited. They could be contenders a few years down the line, but they still need to prove their worth at the moment.