Who’s on the shortlist to direct Mission: Impossible 4?

Tom Cruise is back on board for Mission Impossible 4 — but he and JJ Abrams have come up with an interesting and unpredictable list of potential directors for the project…

Over the past few months we’ve been seeing studios plumping for less than obvious choices to helm some of the big projects doing the rounds. Few, for instance, would have paired Marvel’s Thor movie with Kenneth Branagh in the director’s chair (although that could yet turn out to be a masterstroke), while Paramount at one point was reportedly circling Brian De Palma to direct Paranormal Activity 2 (and a decision on who should helm that project doesn’t seem to have been made yet).

So when Paramount came to its fourth Mission: Impossible movie, it was perhaps unsurprising that it too has been choosing a less than predictable path, and according to The Hollywood Reporter’s Heat Vision blog, it’s homed in on a shortlist of three choices.

The three names that are reportedly on producer JJ Abrams’ wishlist for the project are Brad Bird, Ruben Fleischer and Edgar Wright. They’re all very good directors, but there’s not one name there that you’d necessarily have linked to the project back when it was announced.

Brad Bird, for instance, has a background in animation, with the likes of The Incredibles, The Iron Giant and Ratatouille in his back catalogue. Fleischer was the helmer behind last year’s surprise hit Zombieland, while Edgar Wright is currently putting the finishing touches to Scott Pilgrim Vs The World, having previously helmed Hot Fuzz and Shaun Of The Dead.

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Each of the names there has had to handle action cinema to a degree in the past, but none of them have taken on a full-on Hollywood action blockbuster. Which, we suspect, is why they’ve ended up on JJ Abrams’ list.

They’re all interesting choices, and given that Paramount is up against a deadline here, the studio is going to have to plump for one sooner rather than later. We’ll keep you posted as to how the search for a director turns out.

Mission Impossible 4 is due for release on May 27th 2011, with Tom Cruise reprising his role as Ethan Hunt.