Skip to main content

Salt


In Salt, directed by Phillip Noyce, Angelina Jolie looks like a Bond girl but moves like Jason Bourne and can wear a rubber mask like Ethan Hunt. She can take a fire extinguisher and turn it into a rocket launcher, jump from one moving truck to another on a freeway, kill dozens of armed men, and walk barefoot on a ledge of a building while holding her small dog in her backpack. That dog is in good hands.

Angelina Jolie plays Evelyn Salt, an undercover CIA operative who works in a building that is disguised as the headquarters for an oil company in Washington D.C. Good cover, but one day a Russian man (Daniel Olbrychski) comes into the building claiming to be a defector. When interviewed by Salt, he tells her a story involving the assassination of J.F.K, Russian spies trained since their childhood, and a plot to kill the Russian president on U.S soil. To top it off, he finishes by saying that Evelyn Salt is the name of the spy who will pull the trigger. Salt’s co-worker Ted Winter (Liev Schreiber) believes the man is making it all up, but a counter-intelligence officer called Peabody (Chiwetel Ejiofor) prefers not to take any chances and wants to interrogate Salt, who chooses to flee when her husband won’t answer the phone, a sure-sign that something is wrong in a spy thriller.

From that point on, everyone is after Salt. She goes back and forth from Washington to New York while the police and government agent try to stop her. This involves car chases, chases on foot, multiple gunfights, explosions, and rubber masks.

The plot is outrageous so it works better if the viewer doesn’t think about it too much. In fact, the less you think the more likely it is that you will be surprised by a few plot twists. You are too busy being watching Salt jumping down an elevator shaft to be thinking anyway. What is believable is that Salt is a spy, no matter who she works for. She can change her appearance with coloured contact lenses, hair dye, stolen clothes, and fake ID cards. It is amazing how a few simple changes to your appearance can make you blend in a crowd.

Jolie is really good in those kinds of roles since she is not only performing stunt work and running around with guns while looking stunning, but she also plays the character straight and with emotion. Sometimes Salt is fearless, sometimes she fears for the life of a person close to her, and when things don’t work out, she gets angry and empties her gun on a bullet-proof window. It doesn’t damage the window, but she calms down and finds a way into the room.

In this age of terrorism it is a welcome change of pace to have Russian spies as villains once more. There is even a Russian who has a knife in his shoe, just like in “From Russia with Love” the second Bond movie.

One minor quibble though: in the movie’s trailer, you clearly see clips from a sex scene involving Jolie and presumably, her onscreen husband (August Diehl). Sadly, these scenes were apparently deleted from the theatrical release. Why? If you make a movie with Angelina Jolie as a sexy spy and you film a sex scene, let the audience enjoy it, don’t make them wait for the DVD. Who cares if it is gratuitous, this whole movie is a gratuitous treat filled with violence, stunts, and spies. By all means, add a sex scene to the spy thriller.   

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Empire Magazine (2008) Greatest Movies List - #77: Spartacus

Spartacus (1960) is an interesting movie in Stanley Kubrick's filmography because it doesn’t really feel like a Stanley Kubrick movie. I don’t exactly know why, but his signature style doesn’t seem to be present unlike in classics such as The Shining, A Clockwork Orange, or Dr. Strangelove. It does however feel like one of those big sword-and-sandals epics in which you have British thespians acting as Roman politicians with the occasional big battle sequence. In that respect it is spectacular and features Kirk Douglas at his best as the titular hero.
The story of the rebel slave Spartacus has inspired a bloody and sexy TV series (so far unseen by me, but I hear it’s great) and the story behind how it was made is one of those cases of life imitating art. The Bryan Cranston film Trumbo tells how screenwriter Dalton Trumbo was blacklisted in Hollywood during the 1950s for his communist beliefs and had to rebel against the system by writing screenplays for cheap movies under a fake nam…

Empire Magazine (2008) Greatest Movies List - #79: The Thin Red Line

I once saw an interview in which Christopher Plummer said that what Terrence Malick needs is a writer. He was referring to his experience shooting The New World, which saw his role considerably reduced. The same happened to a much greater extent with Malick’s war movie The Thin Red Line (1998), which saw the screen time of many movie stars reduced to mere minutes amid a 170-minute running time. However you have to hand it to the guy: he knows how to make anything look beautiful, including the carnage of war.
Malick’s movie came out the same year as Saving Private Ryan, so I think that year I had my fill of ultra violent war films and was no too interested in seeing it. Sixteen years later I finally caught up to it on Netflix, but in hindsight the big screen might have been a better option since this is a very visual story. The plot is pretty loose, following one American soldier and sometimes some of his brothers in arms as they make their way through World War II in the Pacific theat…

Empire Magazine (2008) Greatest Movies List - #85: Blue Velvet

Exactly how do you describe a David Lynch movie? He is one of the few directors whose style is so distinctive that his last name has become an adjective. According to Urban Dictionary, the definition of Lynchian is: “having the same balance between the macabre and the mundane found in the works of filmmaker David Lynch.” To see a prime example of that adjective film lovers need look no further than Lynch’s Blue Velvet (1986), which does indeed begin in the mundane before slowly sinking in macabre violence.
My first introduction to the world of David Lynch was through his ground breaking, but unfortunately interrupted, early 1990s TV series Twin Peaks. This was one of the first television shows to grab viewers with a series-long mystery: who killed Laura Palmer? A mix of soap opera, police procedural, and the supernatural, it is a unique show that showed the darkness hidden in suburbia and remains influential to this day. Featuring Kyle MacLachlan as an FBI investigator with a love for …