Right now, I know what you're thinking: "But dude, they already made a Mission Impossible: 3 and it came out in May -- what the hell are you talking about?" See, Hollywood is like a serial dater -- they keep screwing different people until eventually committing to what, at the time, seems to be the best thing out there. In the case of MI:3, the film swapped hands a number of times before finally landing in the lap of J.J. Abrams.
For example, did you know David Fincher was originally tapped to helm the third installment in the Mission Impossible franchise? Yes, David freaking Fincher. Imagine that one. However, with Tom Cruise running the show and Fincher being, well, Fincher, no one expected that relationship to last long. (Insert witty Fight Club joke here.) Actually, Fincher's version had Cruise playing his age and not acting like the superhero he was in the first two films. Seeing as Cruise is, in fact, a superhero in real life, that idea was shelved immediately. Following the Fincher affair, writer Joe Carnahan (Narc) was brought on to try and update the franchise by giving it a grittier, darker edge. However, in the end, Tom Cruise doesn't do dark stuff and so J.J. Abrams was brought on to make sure the film retained its "commercial blockbuster" status.
In a recent interview with the French website, Mesclun Art Media, storyboard artist Rusty Dumas provided us with some details regarding Carnahan's version of the script. Dumas was the original storyboard artist on MI:3 and even went as far as to give us a peek at his storyboards for what was supposed to be an opening sequence set in Africa. While the interview is in French, the good folks over at Dark Horizons were able to get a rough translation. It seems Carnahan's version was awfully political, focusing on the "links between arms sales in the States, the Baltic and the African West." Sounds interesting, but for Mission Impossible? I don't think so.