Paula Patton Joins Tom Cruise & Jeremy Renner in 4th ‘Mission’

Director Brad Bird has cast the “Precious” actress as a young operative in Paramount’s action sequel

"Precious" star Paula Patton is set to join Tom Cruise's team of operatives in the fourth installment of Paramount's "Mission: Impossible" franchise, the studio has confirmed to TheWrap.

I must admit that as a fan of this spy series, I'm a little underwhelmed by the studio's choice, as I've been hearing that Patton has been destined for stardom ever since she made her big screen debut five years ago in "Hitch."

The following year, she starred in "Idlewild" and "Deja Vu," a pair of mediocre movies that failed to cement her status as a leading lady to be reckoned with. It seemed like Hollywood started to catch on, as she landed the thankless female lead roles in "Swing Vote" and "Mirrors," both movies that are better left forgotten. The buzz started back up again after her admittedly impressive turn in "Precious" … and then she played the third wheel in a love triangle with Queen Latifah and Common in "Just Wright."

Aside from being obviously gorgeous, I just don't see what casting directors are seeing in Patton.

Frankly, her casting reminds me of Thandie Newton joining "Mission: Impossible II." Newton's character was more of a love interest for Cruise than a co-worker, but she still displayed no chemistry with the actor, and I can't imagine Patton doing a much better job, since I imagine there will be some sort of romantic tension between her and Cruise or his newly-minted co-star Jeremy Renner ("The Hurt Locker") … or perhaps returning cast member Ving Rhames.

Patton apparently faced stiff competition for the coveted role, as Lauren German and Kristin Kreuk also reportedly tested for the part.

The franchise reboot will not be titled "Mission: Impossible 4," and tracking boards have been referring to the project under the title "Aries."

Production is scheduled to begin this fall, with Brad Bird directing the $150 million sequel, which will be co-financed by Paramount and David Ellison's company Skydance Productions.

Patton recently signed on to play the new ADA in "Law & Order: SVU," and it's unclear whether the 4th "Mission" movie will conflict with her commitment to that NBC series. On the big screen, the 34-year-old actress next stars in the wedding-themed comedy "Jumping the Broom," and she's also set to play the title character in Christine Crokos' indie drama "This Wednesday."

Patton is represented by WME, and her casting was first reported by Deadline.