‘Mission: Impossible IV’ Creeps Stealthily Towards Reality… But What’s J.J. Abrams Involvement?

For the record, I was a fan of J.J. Abrams’ “Mission: Impossible III.” I liked the first movie too, but Abrams did something special with “III.” It was a hoot to watch, even if you tend to shy away from Tom Cruise’s work.

It’s encouraging to hear then that Abrams will be back to produce the fourth “M:I.,” As he told TV Guide [via /Film], “I am incredibly honored that Tom has invited me back as a producer on ’Mission Impossible 4.’ Tom and I have come up with a really cool idea [that] we are pursuing.” Abrams hasn’t committed to direct, and he likely won’t given the huge success of his “Star Trek” reboot and the near-immediate demand for a sequel that followed in the wake of the sci-fi adventure’s release.

So now we’re left to ponder who might step in to bring Abrams’ and Cruise’s vision for “IV” to the silver screen. There are the obvious heavyweights to consider — your Bruckheimers, your Scotts, your Bays — but none of them feel right. It’s true that Abrams worked with Bay and Bruckheimer both as the “Armageddon” screenwriter, but most of those big blockbuster guys are already hooked into their own franchises.

They’re also just fundamentally different. Where Abrams tends to use spectacle as an additive to his dense stories, the “old guard” of blockbuster filmmakers highlight it instead. There’s nothing wrong about either approach, but it means that Abrams’ ideals don’t necessarily jive with those of the Michael Bays of the world.

The most obvious pool for Abrams to draw from is his gang of talented cohorts: Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Damon Lindelof. Kurtzman and Orci co-wrote “M:I III” with Abrams, though neither have experience in the director’s chair. Lindelof — a “Trek” co-producer — seems even less likely, as he’s busy prepping the final season of “Lost” with showrunner Carlton Cuse.

We’ve actually been down this road before, suggesting possible directors for “M:I IV,” and I have to say that I think “Wanted” helmer Timur Bekmambetov is still a good choice. He serves up stylish action like no one else out there, and he’s very good at weaving those “holy crap” moments into the fabric of a story.

“Brick” and “The Brothers Bloom” director Rian Johnson is another interesting possibility. His debut and sophomore efforts combined are admittedly far smaller in scale than any one “M:I” movie. Regardless, Johnson has so far managed to strike an excellent balance between style and substance in his work. It’s a natural fit for Abrams’ own artistic sensibilities.

Those are all cool possibilities. Now though… now I’m going to blow your mind, so bear with me. Wouldn’t it be awesome if Abrams somehow convinced the Wachowski Brothers — of “The Matrix” and “Speed Racer” fame — to helm “Mission: Impossible IV”? An idea that’s so crazy, it just might work. Yes there’s the obvious allure of bringing “Matrix”-style action to elaborate “M:I” set pieces.

More than that however, the “M:I” series has historically attracted unexpected talent: Brian de Palma directed the first and John Woo, the (admittedly so-so) second. Slapping the Wachowski name in front of “directed by” carries with it an equal amount of shock value. That’s it folks, the search is over. The Wachowski Brothers are our next “Mission: Impossible” directors.

Are you excited at the thought of a new “Mission: Impossible” movie? Which of the three was your favorite? Who would YOU like to see direct the Ethan Hunt’s fourth silver screen outing?