Film review – Salt

Directed: Phillip Noyce

Writer: Kurt Wimmer

Starring: Angelina Jolie, Liev Schreiber, Chiwetel Ejiofor 

Tagline: “Salt Will Not Be Stopped”

Trivia: When the police first burst into Salt’s apartment, Peabody stops and examines a matryoshka doll he finds on a shelf. The doll was meant to be a symbolic foreshadowing of the rest of the movie – the unraveling mystery of who Salt is and what her part might be in the assassination conspiracy.

If ever there were a competition on the best female kick-ass character, Evelyn Salt (Angelina Jolie) would absolutely come up at the top 3. In addition Angelina Jolie would probably appear with other characters in the top 10 of that list.

Angelina Jolie has made a career of portraying such characters (Tomb RaiderMr. and Mrs. Smith, Wanted, and Gone in 60 Seconds) and she does it with such elegance you’d think she’s dancing a Tango not really kicking and killing those guys.

Angelina Jolie, for all intents and purposes, is James Bond in Salt, she never quite says: “The name is Salt. Evelyn Salt” but for all other aspects she is as close as you can get to a female James Bond.

Angelina Jolie, who plays super-spy Evelyn Salt, reportedly took this role over from Tom Cruise – which meant having to adapt the script, and that makes this movie an interesting one to watch in order to analyze the script.

Wimmer’s script is intriguing. When it’s strong it takes the time to develop Salt’s character so you care about her childhood, marriage and betrayals. The mistake is, there are too many flashbacks detailing the past, which take away from the movie moving forward.

The plot is not that important, as this type of movie, is not never about the story. It’s about the chase and the adrenalin rush. But here’s the bottom line of it.

When secret agent Salt is accused of being a Russian double agent, she barricades herself on an empty floor of her office building, creates a rocket launcher out of cleaning supplies. From there, she scales tall buildings, leaps from overpasses onto speeding vehicles, and punches and kicks her way through the hordes of tall, strong police officers trying to capture her.

She escapes from, or breaks into, one inescapable and/or impenetrable stronghold after another. And she does it all by herself, and with her bare hands, plus a few guns, grenades and a home-made rocket launcher.

You know how it’s been said of Ginger Rogers, “she did everything Astaire did, except backwards and in high heels”? Evelyn does everything James Bond did, except backwards and barefoot in the snow.

Some of this is just your average suspension-of-disbelief movie experience. However, Salt’s motivations present an even greater role reversal.

It’s safe to say that Salt is driven by revenge, not an emotion you normally attach to female characters in movies. And when she exacts it, she does so in the most bloody and brutal manner.

It’s also interesting to see the gender switch work itself out with Salt’s husband. Like many action hero, her spree of brutal violence is motivated by a threat to her loved ones. It’s refreshing to see a woman protective not for her children, but for her mate.

Though the film and the script may have flaws, Jolie has none. She’s photogenic. She emotes like an Oscar-winner. She handles action/fight scenes like a man, even if an occasional body-double does the heavy lifting. She commands the screen on the level of Daniel Craig or Tom Cruise.

Though it’s unlikely that a tall, model-thin woman could beat up so many husky men, she makes you suspend belief and stay engaged in her character’s crises and quest.

Liev Schreiber and Chiwetel Ejiofor are great collaborators with Jolie, but they stand in the shadow of this gusty actress who steals every scene.

Leave your disbelief, skepticism and discerning eye when you settle down to watch this movie. Just sit back and take this joyride, which will keep your blood rushing until Salt proves her innocence, or completes her deception.

Verdict – 4/5 Stars in my book

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