Who Should Direct ‘Mission Impossible 5’?

I am a very enthusiastic fan of Tom Cruise, I’m also equally as passionate about his spy thriller series Mission Impossible, based on the television series of the same name. It’s possibly the most fascinating franchise in the history of cinema. We get a major character, license, and series every couple years taken over by a different director each time. The directors are never of the middle weight classes either. They’re all established heavy weight filmmakers in the Hollywood scene, all having very unique styles. Brian DePalma’s debut film in the series, is a much tighter film than John Woo’s very quick cut and dove swarmed sequel Brad Bird’s take on the series is legions in tone from the first film. Point being I find it fascinating to watch these films morph with every installment and I think it’s very important you helms the lens on this next project. The Mission Impossible films have been pretty solid from the get go, it’d be a shame to see the next installment be any less than the others. Currently Mr. Christopher McQuarrie (Jack Reacher) is in talks to direct, his resume for behind the camera is short, but he’s a fabulous writing, sharing the oscar with Bryan Singer for The Usual Suspects, and writing his latest directing endeavor Jack the Giant Slayer. But he’s also got a lot on his plate in terms of written works so Hollywood may need a back up. Following is a list compiled of a few directors I find fit for the job, please share any suggestions of whom you’d like to see handle the franchise next.

12. Quentin Tarantino

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There’s a handful of filmmakers that those whom discuss film like to throw around in a conversation or in a study in order to sound educated, without actually understanding the filmmaker. Tarantino being one, another be Kurosawa, and so on and so forth. You could place QT’s name above any film and nearly everyone would start getting all giddy. But I see a good fit with this franchise for the not so winged, or serpent like, Q. Tarantino has been approached by every major studio in Hollywood to take over a license (Green LanternMen in Black), he has yet to accept. He’s not above licensed material though, he did aspire to direct Casino Royale and takes credit for that films fruition. His third film Jackie Brown, is an adaptation of his idol and major influence Elmore Leonard’s novel ‘Rum Punch’. So the implications that he could do another spy film are there, and he’s admitted to being a fan of the series. A dialogue heavy two hour Mission Impossible sounds great to me. It’ll likely be minimal in action, but what it does show will be incredible. Tarantino as we know, can film a great shoot out (Django Unchained), he can also do car chases (Deathproof). Though with a writer signed on, I wouldn’t want to see QT adapt anyone’s script but his own. There’s really no question of if he has the talent to do it, but if he’d actually consider doing it. The answer is likely no, but a boy can dream can’t he?

11. Joe Carnahan

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Earlier this year we got a really spectacular Man vs. Nature film by way of The Grey, it was a brilliant practice in the balance of character, unexpected existentialism, and action. As for the previous works of Joe Carnahan I can’t say much, for The A Team was a mess (but fun), and I never saw Smokin’ Aces, but I hear only great things. While his style may not be as obvious as the other filmmakers on this list, I’d love to see a very personal Mission Impossible film. Maybe Ethan is stranded without supplies, he must use his training we’ve never seen before. It’d be a slick opportunity to slide in some flashbacks with back-story and have a real character arch, Ethan must find a way out of this wasteland but not after finding himself first. See back in 2006 Joe Carnahan was flavor of the month for Paramount when searching for a director for Mission Impossible 3. Carnahan stuck with his guns so to speak, and left the project to presumably do Smokin’ Aces.

10. Troy Duffy

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Only directing 2 films, Troy Duffy struck gold with The Boondock Saints, he later got cocky and tripped up with the sequel nearly ten years later, seems the guy was a little rusty. While throwing him onto a big budget action picture for his return may seem a bit much, there is no other action film that looks, feels, or flows, like The Boondock Saints. It’s a total labor of love, and while maybe Duffy ain’t got any mojo left to spread, we’ll never know until he tries.

9. Pierre Morel

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Most of America knows this guy as the man who made Liam Neeson a certified bad ass in TakenMove over Clive Owen, there’s a new stop at nothing killer in town! While he did reinvent the career of an actor, he’s also got a ton of experience lighting, blocking, and tracking action sequences. He occasionally works as a camera operator, most notably in The Transporter 2. So what if he turned Tom Cruise into a hard ass, introduce some tragedy in the characters life and make him a darker shade. I don’t mean to make him edgy, but just give him a reason to show no mercy. Audiences forget that Cruise is an Academy Award Winning actor, he can play whatever is thrown at him. While his material of late is fairly one dimensional, a really violent and angry character could spice up his career.

8. Sylvester Stallone

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So The Expendables was a bust, but that Rambo revisiting wasn’t a half bad action film. Blood fogged the frame and lead showered the set. Stallone knows how to fill a frame, though he might not be able to connect two frames together coherently. Stallone may have been out to rust for too long, but imagine a Mission Impossible 5 starring Tom Cruise directed by Stallone, and also costarring the director. Imagine him as the villain, an ex-agent that’s come back for revenge. A different type of agent, one trained in an age that had polar priorities than today’s agents. Okay, so maybe that’s a rehashed Skyfall plot, but I’m pretty sure I’ve seen Skyfall before too. I may fancy the prospect of Stallone acting in the film more than I care for his direction, but I feel the two must be packaged together. Though if you happened to see the documentary Inferno: The Making of The Expendables, and are aware that Stallone stepped aside for someone else to lens The Expendables 2, it may be all too obvious that the man has hit a wall. Acting and directing separately are tough enough. When a director makes a cameo like M. Night Shyamalan or Quentin Tarantino is one thing, but when you’re starring in the film you’re directing… the logistics seem damn near impossible. Just picture the first scene in The Expendables. That ship hold with both the good guys and the bad guys. Not only did Stallone have to analyze all those performances around him, but also manage the special effects, all while maintaining his own character. Luckily the cast for MI5 is likely to be significantly smaller. Both of his macho, orgy, men on a mission, films made a ton of money… so someone must be paying attention to him.

7. Richard Donner

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Lethal Weapon is one of my favorite cop films, and I don’t just like the first Lethal Weapon, I like entries 2, 3, and 4 as well, yeah, yeah start nit picking away, but I stand by those films proud. Richard Donner is also the worshipped of the first two Superman movies, and The Omen which has to be the best film in the creepy kid sub-genre. Those are just the big boy films, he was also behind the camera on The Goonies. The guys an absolute auteur, there’s only one problem. The son-of-a-gun is over 80, and this is a young man’s game. While in 1998, Lethal Weapon 4 may have been deemed decent or culturally relevant, it’s doubtful he’s remained relevant over the years. He’s done a lot of producing and maybe he’d be a good choice for that position, in reality though I don’t think he’s a likely candidate. But he is alive and still working, so he’s qualified to receive a spot on the list.

6. Kazuaki Kiriya

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Okay, so I actually speak fluent Asian and Italian cinema. Kazuaki Kiriya directed two films, Casshern, and Goemon, both very different kinds of motion pictures, but fantastic in their own way. You just have to watch these green screen wonders to really grasp their tone. Kiriya plays everything straight and it pays off, but most of his sets are done in a computer and the only thing tangible on screen is the actors. While Casshern sports a heavy blue overtone, Goemon is lathered in a deep red. His color schemes are very… focused. In terms of action, he pretty much can do whatever he wants because of how he chooses to shoot his films. You might not know his films, but you may know his wife, pop singer Utada Hikaru, who wrote and performed the opening songs for the Kingdom Hearts game and it’s sequel. He’s directed some of her videos.

5. Gore Verbinski

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Publicly doubted after his Pirate sequels didn’t fare as well on the high seas as Curse of the Black Pearl did, but when Verbinski left the series it not only proved that his films aren’t that bad, but it truly is a director that drives a film and it’s ultimate turn out. Pirates of the Carribean: On Stranger Tides had nearly the same cast and crew as it’s previous installments. You’d think after three films they’d have enough practice but the sub-par result of On Stranger Tides proves otherwise. The director really is key, when a major license is acquired by Hollywood the first news we the public looks to hear, is who is directing. We are living in the age of the director. Of course if Verbinski is involved, then Johnny Depp must also accompany. I don’t mind, but someone might want to check and see if Burton’s feelings are hurt. What if Depp played the bad guy? When Depp goes dark, he gets scary. Sweeny Todd had him cutting throats in D Minor.

4. John McTiernan

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Besides directing Bruce Willis in Die Hard, Mr. McTiernan also guided Arnold Schwartenager twice over. Once through the jungles of the Amazon and away from an alien game hunter, and once again in Last Action Hero. I wouldn’t jump the gun and say McTiernan has made any revolutionary action films, but Predator is a solid sci-fi action film. The way McTiernan builds suspense and the mythology around this creature is incredible. He made that thing cool! Every set piece in Predator is established with a wide shot so the audience can grasp a sense of the arena. So when the warriors do battle, the audience knows where the exits are. He doesn’t spoil the atmosphere of the jungle with all this mapping, so to speak. While we know what’s going on, we are still disoriented by the foreign environment. While his Die Hard series has been passed off to other directors (only returning once for Die Hard With a Vengeance), I’d like to see Mr. McTiernan hop back in the directors chair. He hasn’t done a film since 2003 and what a way to return by directing another action star.

3. Mark Neveldine & Brian Taylor

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This youthful duo hasn’t had the best track record, but they are two of the most motivated young action filmmakers out there today. Their use of handheld cameras and determination to get the most spectacular angle on the action, sets them apart from most filmmakers their age. If they have to strap on roller skates and hitch a ride on the back of a motorcycle with a handheld camera (which they often do), to get the shot then so be it! It also helps that they’re willing to take great risks when presenting action. You may not buy what they show you, but they’re going to show it to you regardless. If you have seen either Crank or Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, then you understand that they like the in-your-face and over-your-head approach. What these guys need is a script, which will be provided for them, granted they take this project. A Christopher McQuarrie script, translated by these two sounds too good to be true. It may turn out something like Jack Reacher on two lines of cocaine.

2. Michael Davis

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Davis on the left.

Before the Clive Owen tongue in cheek Shoot Em’ Up turned everyone on with it’s sex scene turned gun fight, director Michael Davis had a buddy-buddy horror comedy called Monster Man. To get an idea of that film, the killer is a man in a monster truck. He hasn’t done a film since 2007’s above mentioned action flick, so he’s due for a return. While being a master of perhaps the absurd, the films he makes aren’t at all near the bad end of the spectrum. Okay, well he may have had a rough start with writing Double Dragon, but the dark days are behind him now. Could you imagine a pure adrenaline fueled film with monster trucks and sex scene action set pieces, if we really want a change of pace for the series we’ll find it here. Put Tom Cruise and this guy in a room with some action figures (John Woo style), and you’d come out with stuff never seen or knew you wanted to see on the big screen before.

1. Steven Soderbergh

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The static, almost monotone feel of Soderbergh’s spy thriller Haywire was eerily effective. While he has an issue with character, I find him one of the more interesting filmmakers of our time. The guy also pumps out like, two movies a year. A very restrained Mission Impossible that is driven by what can happen within a few frames might be a direction the series needs. After Ethan has scaled the Dubai tower, any attempt in the big adventure department may seem underwhelming. So instead we get something minimal but no less thrilling. A really tight action film with a Cliff Martinez score, and a majority of static or slow camera work. Interesting factoid, Soderbergh actually acts as director of photography for most of his films under a pen name, Peter Andrews. Soderbergh is one of our generations best filmmakers, but he’s also one willing to take a break from his usual work and make an A-grade action thriller. He’s got my vote.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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13 Comments

  1. AnnaLar

    You did this one good Brandon! Maybe Justin Lin on the 13th place?

    • Brandon Somma

      Anything past ‘The Fast and the Furious’ in the series I’m not crazy about, but Lin does have a great sense of action. ‘Fast Five’ is proof of that.

  2. Misagh

    I like your choices. I would have added ‘Hong-jin Na’ to the list. He is the South Korean mastermind behind the now famous ‘The Chaser’ and the relatively recent ‘The Yellow Sea’. These two movies clearly demonstrates that he is in full control of his craft. You should certainly watches these if you haven’t already.

  3. Amanda Duke
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    Your best director based article thus far! We have to give Brad Bird some praise for his one. I was not expecting much when I walking into that one.

  4. gabriella
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    Seriously can’t believe that you didn’t add Michael Bay! lol

  5. Mr Hyde
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    Danny Boyle?

  6. Taylor Ramsey

    Bird made the best MI film yet and I was really hoping to see him in the chair again.

  7. David Tatlow

    Neveldine/Taylor would be very cool. I absolutely loved Gamer, and Crank 2 is THE film to show off your TV/sound system with. I like this list a lot.

  8. Austin Bender

    Steven Soderbergh would be a good choice for the director chair.

    I can’t see Tarantino doing it, though. It would most likely be amazing, but more violent that any MI movie ever made. I agree, I don’t think he’d do it if he was not the writer.

  9. Vic Millar

    I think it would be great to see Brian De Palma come back for a final entry in the series, bringing it all full circle. Soderbergh would be a fun choice too, and he’s unpredictable enough with his choices that he just might be down for an action-franchise entry. After his so-called “retirement,” of course.

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