Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Quickie: Salt


Release: 07.23.10
Rated PG-13
1 hour, 40 minutes


Evelyn Salt (Angelina Jolie, Mr. & Mrs. Smith) is a Susie SuperSpy for the CIA by day, but tries to be little Holly Homemaker to her scientist hubby (August Diehl, Inglorious Basterds) by night. Before she can tie on her apron, she must interrogate a Russian defector, Vassily Orlov (Daniel Olbrychski), who has casually waltzed into the CIA's secret headquarters. Orlov reveals Salt is actually Debbie DoubleAgent planted by the Russians to initiate the heinous 'Day X'. Panicked dinner won't be ready in time, Salt escapes. Agent Peabody (Chiwetel Ejiofor, Serenity), a.k.a. Bobby By-the-Book, grabs Salt's friend and coworker, Ted Winter (Liev Shreiber, Manchurian Candidate), and pursues her. The race to stop Salt before 'Day X,' while Salt rushes to save the ham from overcooking.

Okay. Maybe Salt isn't so much worried that she'll burn the pineapple, but rather that her husband has been abducted, but six and half-a-dozen, right? Salt is writer Kurt Wimmer's (The Recruit) mad dash of a story full of twists; some surprising, most obvious. To properly enjoy the story you must first accept that the US Government's most secure agencies have shit hiring practices. More damn Russian spies crawl out of the woodwork than cockroaches from a dumpster.

On the flipside, actual, dyed-in-the-wool, highly-trained 'Mericans can't stop this one woman. Jolie sells Salt's determination and skill, which is why Salt works as well as it does. The fight choreography makes Salt a believable, and sometimes exceptionally violent, ass-whooping wonder. However, the dull chase sequences and watching her survive one impossible jump after another negates much of that excitement.

Director Phillip Noyce (The Bone Collector) creates a decent action thrill-ride by this summer's standards; not saying much given the summer of '10 scorecard. Most disappointing is how the ending begs for a sequel. If the studio had truly been looking to franchise Salt, a more flavorful and unique beginning would have been preferable to post-story pandering.


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