Tom Cruise Mission ImpossibleThings were going well for the currently in development fourth Mission: Impossible film. Tom Cruise was ready to get back into the shoes of super spy Ethan Hunt. Paramount scored a great director in Brad Bird. And former Alias scribes Josh Applebaum and Andre Nemec were putting together a script. This was all before Cruise’s latest action flick, Knight and Day, took a giant steamer at the box office. Now the word on the street is that Paramount is looking to retool Mission: Impossible 4 and give Cruise’s character a new role: mentor.

The story comes from Deadline, who had the following to say:

I hear the script that came in is very good, but the studio is still trying to figure out the budget as well as Cruise’s role in light of the lackluster Knight And Day grosses. There’s talk that Tom’s character will mentor a young operative this time out if the pic proceeds.

To the casual onlooker, this might sound like a bad idea. Any time a beloved character is relegated to background music, it doesn’t go over well with die hard fans. But are there any real die hard Mission: Impossible fans who would be upset if Ethan Hunt were to bring on an apprentice? I’m not sure. Especially if the apprentice were a strong, bankable young star. Producer J.J. Abrams seems pretty adept in picking those, as evidence by the casting of Star Trek.

Heck, this might even be our chance to see Chris Pine take on that Jack Ryan-esque role that he’s been eying for a while, seeing as the actual new Jack Ryan movie has stalled out.

It’s clear that this will come down to a business decision for Paramount, who is very good at protecting their investments and making safe choices. But the creative entities at work here are strong. From Abrams to Bird to their team of writers, they’ve got some clever folks working on this movie. No matter what direction or budget level the studio sends their way, they should be able to handle it and turn out a Mission: Impossible film worth watching.

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