<i>Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol</i> Set Photos Pop Up Online

Seriously now: who is excited for Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol? I think M:I3 was a high point for the series, so I'm very much looking forward to seeing what J.J. Abrams and Tom Cruise cook up for Ethan Hunt's next outing. Especially with The Incredibles director Brad Bird making his live-action debut at the helm.

A few pics from the set have appeared online, compliments of ComingSoon.net. There's nothing too revealing here -- unless the sight of Tom Cruise looking considerably older than he did in Mission: Impossible counts -- but it gives me a reason to talk about the upcoming movie. Presumably the finished product will feature more actors, more explosions and perhaps even a gun or two.

In a military context, "ghost" typically refers to some sort of black ops; that is to say, operations which few know about to allow for maximum deniability. And "protocol" is a set of rules or guidelines, usually scenario-specific where the military is concerned. The fictional Impossible Missions Force is already a black ops team. To me, this title suggests that something is going to go awry within the IMF and some sort of emergency contingency plan will be put into play.

Or not. Really, I've been holding on to this one prediction/hope since M:I - Ghost Protocol was first announced: Ethan Hunt is our villain. There's been a lot of talk since M:I3 of Cruise stepping away from his lead role on the series. With Jeremy Renner now in play as a younger member of the team, this is certainly as good a time as any to pass that proverbial torch. And how cool would that be seeing Hunt, fed up with constantly being framed for everything, going rogue and turning on his former colleagues? Here's hoping.

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