The Mission: Impossible franchise is easy to dismiss as Tom Cruise's zillion-dollar plaything, but he deserves some credit for handing each installment over to a noted director with a clear stylistic signature (Brian De Palma, John Woo, J.J. Abrams) instead of the invisible hack you might expect. Number four goes to Brad Bird, making his live-action debut after a pair of successful animation features (The Incredibles, Ratatouille), and there are some wonderfully cartoonish moments, particularly the skyscraper stunts and a Road Runner-worthy sequence involving a giant screen that replicates the vanishing point of an empty hallway even as the secret agents behind it move progressively closer. As usual with the series, the movie combines a plot line a toddler could understand with gadgets that would baffle an engineering Ph.D. With Paula Patton, Jeremy Renner, and Simon Pegg in the comic tech-geek role.
Director: Brad Bird
Producer: Tom Cruise, J.J. Abrams, Bryan Burk, Jeffrey Chernov, David Ellison, Paul Schwake and Dana Goldberg
Cast: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Paula Patton, Michael Nyqvist, Vladimir Mashkov, Léa Seydoux, Anil Kapoor and Josh Holloway