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At one point it looked like Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol might be the last Mission: Impossible film as we knew them, with Tom Cruise's Ethan Hunt handing the franchise reins over to Jeremy Renner's younger character, and the whole thing dying a dignified if delayed death. Then it turned out that Ghost Protocol was fantastic, reviving not just Cruise as an action star but the Mission: Impossible name entirely. So if you think either Cruise or Hunt will walk off into the sunset now, you're not paying attention.

Now we've got the first rumblings that M:I 5 may be finally getting off the ground. Deadline reports that Christopher McQuarrie, who directed Cruise in this December's Jack Reacher, is the top choice of both Cruise and producer J.J. Abrams to make M:I 5, which is described as a "big priority" for Paramount. McQuarrie has been tight with Cruise for a while now, writing the Bryan Singer-directed Valkyrie with Cruise in the lead and doing uncredited rewrite work on most of Cruise's films since. And though the old star system may be falling apart these days, Cruise remains one of the few who has the power to pick and choose his directors-- so if you've got Cruise in your court, you've got a lot of gigs primed to come your way.

It's encouraging that Abrams is behind the pick too, especially since his judgement with hiring Brad Bird for Ghost Protocol turned out to be dead on. I'm sure some fans were hoping Bird would return for the fifth movie, but it's clear that Bird is using that leap into live-action to pursue other projects closer to his heart. I can't say I blame him. Whether or not McQuarrie winds up getting the Mission: Impossible gig, this promises good things about what he's turned in for Jack Reacher, which comes to theaters December 21.