Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Movie Review: Salt (2010)

Salt (2010)

Director - Phillip Noyce
100 min; PG-13
Angelina Jolie – Evelyn Salt
Liev Schreiber – Ted Winter

I purposely waited 2 days to write my thoughts on the new film Salt, wanting to do my best to accurately gauge my feelings about another ‘summer movie’ of which I clearly tend to dislike. I’m glad I did wait because I was generally laughing when I left the theater, but I now realize that it has the feeling of a film that is on the verge of being better than it is, yet it holds up well enough to be exactly what it is striving to be, and if you understand what I am saying then you’ll understand what I am getting at… or something.

This isn’t a good movie, but it’s ok for a summer action film in the sense that it is over-the-top implausible. The film would not work with a male lead (Tom Cruise was reportedly offered the job) and so it is that Angelina Jolie as Evelyn Salt took over and made it passable. It is not difficult to watch Jolie on screen – she’s beautiful and athletic and she holds her own when she speaks. As a member of team CIA she is accused of being a double agent for Russia (These storylines still exist?) and the movie hinges on her escaping many impossible situations as she works to clear her name. Her co-worker Ted (Liev Schreiber) is flabbergasted by these events and he wants nothing else than to catch her. The twists and turns are as nuanced as a sledgehammer to the head, but they work ok for most of the film – I simply cannot write this review without mentioning how absurd the final 1/3 of the film is… summer movie or not, from the White House scene on it is just LOL-tastic.

Director Phillip Noyce has been involved in some pretty decent movies over his career and I think it is that experience that saves this film from completely crumbling: Patriot Games (1992); Clear and Present Danger (1994); The Saint (1997); The Bone Collector (1999) (You’ll notice all of these are from a 10-15 years ago and they are all infinitely better than this film – but at least he brings his experience to this project.)

Whereas Jolie took part in the ungodly awful Wanted (2008), a film which was just terrible on every level no matter how you try to describe the genre to me, she pulls off a decent secret agent role here. My major contention with the film is that is moves from a potentially exhilarating spy piece to an over-the-top, impossible, plot-hole riddled piece that can’t save itself. Pay for some candy and a large coke and maybe catch this one as a double feature some afternoon.

*** out of 5

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