starring Angelina Jolie, Liev Schreiber, and Chiwetel Ejiofor
directed by Phillip Noyce
written by Kurt Wimmer
Columbia Pictures (2010)
Angelina Jolie might be the best action star of the past decade. Think about that for a second. For the first time that I can think of in cinematic history, the most bankable--and convincing--actor with a litany of action movies to their credit, Angelina Jolie tops the list. Throw out the names like Jason Statham and Vin Diesel, and while they have their own admirable level of success, does any guy come close to the A-list caliber that Jolie can claim?
Salt feels like a movie custom-made for Jolie, though it seems the role of Evelyn Salt was originally written as a male character intended for a Tom Cruise style leading man. She's runnin', she's gunnin', and looking about as sexy as she ever has the whole way through.
The initial premise is pretty slick, even if it isn't all that original. Salt is a CIA operative getting ready for a desk job so she can settle down, until a Russian spy turns himself in out of the blue and warns that the Russian president will be assassinated by a secret spy working inside America's borders--and that spy's name is Evelyn Salt. From that point on, it's a cat-and-mouse chase as Salt goes on the run, claiming innocence and desperately trying to reach her husband whom she feels is under threat of being killed off by whatever cabal is orchestrating this conspiracy.
As the movie progresses though, there is a house of cards being built, as the plot becomes increasingly convoluted and events leading towards the climax become all the more dependent on things happening in a very specific way. If I had been scrutinizing that plot more closely, I probably would have found my intelligence being insulted. As it stands, I was looking for straight-up popcorn fare from this one, and was satisfied by what I got.
There are moments where it really feels like it's trying to be The Fugitive. On that front, the movie pales. Where it shines, I thought, was where it felt more like a Mission: Impossible offshoot. It's no Bourne Identity, but the fight scenes are tightly shot and embrace that style. And the whole "who is double-crossing who" scenario plays out with just enough intrigue to keep me from throwing popcorn at the TV.
I guess you need only be a fan of action movies and Angelina Jolie to enjoy this movie. If you're repelled by either of those ingredients, then Salt is more likely to leave a sour taste in your mouth.