By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist November 23, 2010 at 2:01AM
Despite the tiredness of the franchise in general, and the ridiculous over-punctuation of its title, we're somewhat optimistic about "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol," for two reasons. The first is that it marks the live-action debut of animation genius Brad Bird, who was behind "The Iron Giant" and "The Incredibles," and if the prospect of a spy movie from the man who directed the latter, perhaps Pixar's best film, doesn't excite you, we don't know what will.
And the second is Jeremy Renner, who, it was announced in the summer, would be joining the franchise as a colleague of Tom Cruise's Ethan Hunt in the Impossible Mission Force. Rumors have been circulating for months that the part, a protege of Hunt's, was likely to form the focus of any future entries in the franchise with Cruise taking a back seat or being absent altogether and Renner, as part of a lengthier discussion with MTV, has confirmed these rumors, to a degree.
Renner, currently shooting the film in Dubai, confirms that he's possibly being groomed (a phrase that makes us slightly uncomfortable, as it sounds like Renner was recruited for the franchise over an Internet chatroom by Cruise pretending to be a 13-year-old girl) to lead the series, saying "It's a franchise to potentially take over. I can't predict the future, but that's certainly the idea."
MTV pressed for details, but Renner declined to say anything further, saying that "I can't really go into the details of the script because that's still evolving" -- which is a little worrying, considering that the film's now several months into its shoot. Indeed, Renner's role doesn't sound like it'll be playing to his strengths as such, as he says that "I haven't gotten to work too much in terms of acting stuff, but the stunts have been insane." Hopefully there's more 'acting stuff' in the tail end of the shoot, otherwise Renner'll be somewhat wasted.
Renner and Cruise topline, with Paula Patton, Josh Holloway, the returning Ving Rhames and Simon Pegg on the side of the angels, and Michael Nyqvist ("The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo"), Anil Kapoor ("Slumdog Millionaire"), Lea Seydoux ("Robin Hood") and Vladimir Mashkov ("Behind Enemy Lines") as the villains, although plot details beyond that are under wraps. J.J. Abrams is producing with a script from Josh Appelbaum and Andre Nemec ("Alias," the upcoming "21 Jump Street"), and the film hits theaters on December 16th, 2011. Presumably, if it's a hit, Renner will then topline "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol + (Raven Syndrome = Mission To Moscow)," or whatever it ends up being called, in 2014.