Salon - Take an aging star often viewed as a weirdo, a director who’s never made a live-action film and the fourth installment of a 15-year-old movie franchise whose roots go back to 1960s television. What do you get? Well, it certainly could have been a total disaster, or an awkward nostalgia exercise, but instead “Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol” is something even more unlikely: the most exciting action flick of the year, by a huge margin. Director Brad Bird brings all the wit, style and imagination of his animated films (“Ratatouille,” “The Incredibles” and “The Iron Giant”) to this slick secret-agent techno-fantasy. As for 49-year-old Tom Cruise, he’s surely ready for a comeback after weathering the worst publicity of his celebrity career. He’s back in his comfort zone here as renegade super-spy Ethan Hunt, who is exactly the kind of charismatic, overamped control freak we all believe (rightly or wrongly) that Cruise is too.