Tom Cruise confirmed for fourth “Mission: Impossible,” but in what capacity?


By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: Was it ever a question that Tom Cruise would play a roll in Brad Bird’s “Mission: Impossible IV,” which is currently in development?

Sure, some folks — likely those already in an anti-Cruise camp — speculated that the underwhelming domestic response to “Knight & Day” might have spooked Paramount into pulling the A-listers involvement in yet another action thriller. But the studio squelched those rumors by confirming that Cruise, indeed, will appear in the film, which is due in theaters on Dec. 16, 2011.

Now, the nature of Cruise’s participation remains unclear. It has been suggested that Cruise’s character, super agent Ethan Hunt, could be killed off early in the film. And a quote from a former Paramount studio head doesn’t lend a vote of confidence to Cruise’s survival odds.

“‘Mission: Impossible’ is a brand. It didn’t have anything to do with Tom Cruise in the beginning,” he told The Hollywood Reporter.

Ouch.

It’s also been suggested that Hunt could pass the baton to a younger spy in the film, much like Paramount tried to do with Shia LaBeouf in the fourth “Indiana Jones” film. Though fans would quickly tell you that transition was anything but smooth, and it’s unlikely they’d turn out for an on-screen “Mutt” Williams adventure.

What will be Ethan Hunt’s fate? We’ll find out in time. For now, we know the fourth “Mission: Impossible” will have Cruise in some capacity. Foreign receipts for “Knight & Day” will go a long way toward telling us if it’s in the lead … or a walk-on cameo.

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