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Archive for August 22nd, 2010

Salt

CIA agent Evelyn Salt (Angelina Jolie) and her boss Ted Winter (Live Schreiber) are about to leave the office for the day when a Russian defector (Daniel Olbrychski) walks in. He describes a plot involving a Russian sleeper agent called Evelyn Salt. What do you do in a situation like that? To quote Minority Report “Everybody runs”.

It is common knowledge that the screenplay by Kurt Wimmer was originally intended as a Tom Cruise vehicle, and this really is Cruise territory with similarities to the aforementioned Minority Report as well as the first and third Mission Impossible movies and this years Knight and Day. The greatest credit to the casting of Angelina Jolie is that we you don’t walk out of the movie spouting bullshit about how her vulnerability as a woman adds an extra dimension to the movie. Proving herself one of the few credible female action stars around Jolie’s performance is probably straighter and more serious than Cruise would have played it.

Directed by Phillip Noyce who is probably best known for his two Jack Ryan movies, Clear and Present Danger & Patriot Games (neither of which is as good as The Hunt for Red October), but he has actually had a long and varied career that includes the classic Dead Calm, the underrated The Bone Collector (also starring Angelina Jolie), the brilliant but little seen Rabbit-Proof Fence as well as the appalling The Saint. Keeping the movie to a taught ninety-something minutes the action keeps coming and on the whole is well handled. The action is too farfetched to be truly realistic but does have a certain realism created by its brutality and serious tone. It is that serious tone that will dived audiences, forgoing the fun of Knight and Day or The A Team offer, Salt relies on its action and not its humour to entertain. In that way (as well as the cold war theme) it is very much an old-fashioned movie. It is Jolie’s performance that really makes it work she has the same intensity as in her more serious movies. As the story develops and the action kicks in her dialogue becomes minimal, that is when you appreciate the intensity. Flashbacks are used effectively throughout the movie developing a compelling if not always credible back story.

Chiwetel Ejiofor is wasted, this is mainly because his character is only really needed for the final scenes but he really is needed for those scenes. On that subject, the ending is perfect for the movie allowing a satisfactory conclusion without sacrificing the earlier scenes and also leaving the door open for a sequel “The Salt Supremacy”? comparisons with No Way Out are inevitable but this really is a very different movie. As for the person on the run theme, it has been done so many times before but nothing ever lives up to Hitchcock’s classic North by Northwest, it is therefore no surprise that salt is no different.

Three Stars out of Five

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