Surprised isn’t quite the right word for it.
The Mission: Impossible franchise has always been an odd duck. A genuinely entertaining and reasonably intelligent first movie. The second was an abominable failure that represents everything wrong with American John Woo films. The third was an appealing, action-heavy but plot-light blockbuster that I found quite enjoyable. JJ Abrams, who directed MI:3 has already announced that he won’t return to direct the fourth entry, although apparently he and star Tom Cruise have developed what’s coyly described as “a really cool idea” for the story, and Abrams has already written a treatment for it. To make things more confusing, Cruise will return to play Ethan Hunt, though it’s still being called something of a reboot. Or reborquel. Choose whichever word you prefer.
What they don’t have is a director. A few names have been tossed around — Zombieland’s Ruben Fleischer, Hot Fuzz’s Edgar Wright were the big ones. Now apparently there’s a new frontrunner for the series, and it’s… well… Brad Bird.
Yes, that Brad Bird. It’s an unlikely choice, to say the least. Yet also a strangely intriguing one. Bird’s history is almost exclusively in animation, but what a history it is — The Incredibles, The Iron Giant, Ratatouille — all some of the greatest animated movies of the last decade, if not of all time. Seriously… if you haven’t sen The Iron Giant, either watch it tonight or I’ll stab you in the throat with a screwdriver.
Threats aside, Bird’s never done a full-length live-action film, and his fare is usually much more youth-oriented (though clever enough to be a joy for adults as well). But he’s a hell of a director. Curious.
We’ll keep you posted.
Seriously though, watch The Iron Giant. I wasn’t joking about the screwdriver thing.