Salt (2010)

Salt (2010)

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That hat. Dead giveaway.
That hat. Dead giveaway.

Twitter Plot Summary: Angelina Jolie’s FIA agent goes on the run after being accused of being a Russian spy.

Genre: Action/Crime/Mystery/Thriller

Director: Phillip Noyce

Key Cast: Angelina Jolie, Liev Schreiber, Chiwetel Ejiofor, August Diehl.

Five Point Summary:

1. I’m not a spy! I’m not a spy! I’m not a… no, sorry, I AM a spy.
2. Well at least the action scenes are decent. Bravo.
3. Yawnsome flashback tale…
4. Fake face =blatant rip-off of Mission Impossible. Rip-off. Hah! I made a funny.
5. Slowest. Nuclear. Authorisation. Ever.

I’m not sure what I avoided watching Salt in the first instance. I think I was put off by the fact it was an action film starring Angelina Jolie – I wasn’t overly enthused with the second Tomb Raider movie so that’s probably why. Now that I have seen it, it appears my initial preconceptions were misguided. I’ll try and avoid pre-judging anything else in future.

We’re in modern/slightly in the future political thriller territory with this one. It’s an intriguing concept if nothing else – what would happen if we found out that a number of Russian sleeper agents are undercover in a number of prominent positions, waiting to be activated? This would have been more culturally relevant in the 80s, perhaps. The fall of the Soviet Union hasn’t really done the story any favours. But still, we press on and if you ignore the fact the Cold War ended 20+ years ago (or did it?!?!?!) it’s a fun story with its own fair share of twists and turns. Is Evelyn Salt (Jolie) really a Russian sleeper spy, or has she been set up? If there are sleeper agents all over the place, is everybody who they say they are? I’ll say this now – don’t try and over think it. It’s not really worth your time spending the film wondering who’s a spy and who isn’t. Well, if you watch the standard theatrical cut of course, there are a number of changes to the story if you see one of the two extended editions, which elevate things to silly levels of twisty turny insanity.

Liev couldn't help but wonder if Angelina had released a silent but deadly gas into the room.
Liev couldn’t help but wonder if Angelina had released a silent but deadly gas into the room.

Director Phillip Noyce comes from good action thriller stock having previously directed Patriot Games and Clear And Present Danger. You know, those two Jack Ryan films starring Harrison “he belongs in a museum!” Ford. There’s a bucketload of kinetic action and the story moves at a frantic pace, almost too frantic at times. Still, once again you can clearly see everything that’s happening without thinking you’re having a seizure, so you know… bonus. If I’m going to complain about anything, it’s that Chiwetel Ejiofor didn’t have nearly enough to do. The man doesn’t need to be playing the straight-laced detective type, give him something meatier like his role in Serenity. Schreiber is his usual reliable self in the same sort of role he’s usually cast in. And then of course there’s Angelina Jolie who apparently did most of her own stunts and is as reliable an action star as you could hope to have, as it happens. It’s clear from the footage that it’s Angelina and not a badly placed stunt double doing a lot of the work, which adds a huge amount to the film. It’s not to the same extent as Tom Cruise scaling up a massive rock or a massive tower in Asia (see the Mission Impossible franchise), but it’s certainly competitive. The stars performing stunts, where safe and possible of course, is always a good thing.

Thrillers come in three flavours – intense, edge-of-your-seat stuff from start to finish; boring dross that barely holds your attention and probably runs for 20 minutes longer than it needs to; then there’s Salt, sat right in the middle. A fun 100 minutes while you’re watching it, but almost instantly forgotten when you’re done. We should count ourselves lucky though – Tom Cruise was attached for some time, and despite his talent and immense box office draw, I don’t think it would have helped the story in any way. If you want something to mull over, go and get the extended cuts on DVD/Blu-Ray, that opens everything up despite only modifying a few bits here and there. Interesting, if not exactly necessary.

Favourite scene: The motorcycle action sequence. Some nice stunts there.

Quote: Peabody: I’d say she’s a trained goddamn liar, and everything she’s said up until now has been to protect her cover.
Winter: Why don’t you tell me how you really feel about it.

Silly Moment: Salt wears a fake face, Mission Impossible style. Looks stupid.

Score: 3/5

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