Dun, dun, da, dun... Tom Cruise + Mission Impossible is a mixture we're familiar with. He's been our Ethan Hunt since 1996. When word hit in February that Cruise was reprising his role, it seemed like a run-of-the-mill sequel. But then the tide turned. Brad Bird chose it as his jump out of Pixar animation, and just the other day Jeremy Renner, recent Oscar nominee, was tapped to co-star. Would this still just be a straight-forward Mission: Impossible 4?

Keeping the old formula would likely be a risky proposition. The first did well, and the second did almost exactly as well. A bigger budget brought in a bigger take, only a rough $1 million off the original. But the third, while making money, cost more and made a whole lot less. Top that with a disappointing return on Cruise's recent Knight and Day, and Paramount has got to be careful with how they make and market this.

But should they be so careful that the Mission: Impossible sequel isn't actually Mission: Impossible?

Variety insiders claim that the next film won't be called Mission: Impossible IV. In fact, there's a good chance that the M:I moniker won't be visible at all, much like The Dark Knight. Paramount wants to redo the franchise, "hold down upfront costs," and consider how Tom Cruise's box office appeal figures in. Beyond the name change, they're going to put away the old Ethan Hunt + team of agents and have it be an action-packed Cruise-Renner duo, where Renner can take the spotlight in sequels while Cruise has a lesser role.

If Cruise's image woes happened during production of the film, the changes would make sense, but adding a co-star and plopping a hat on the title doesn't make this an all-new, super-flick. In fact, one's got to wonder why Cruise is involved at all, since the studio seems to be intent on a passing of the torch. To get Cruise to even sign on, Paramount and Tom had to put the past in the past, when there was a nasty parting of ways after M:I 3. Why go to this trouble, and box office risk?

And just how much more of the Mission: Impossible framework will be discarded? Will the iconic music get tossed as well? At this point, it seems quite possible that we'll see an action movie with no ties to the original story. And if that's the case, they might as well have just tossed off Cruise and used the same general idea with Renner taking the reigns immediately.

Is Paramount headed in the right direction, or are they doing it all wrong?