It’s not difficult to believe that Tom Cruise was once slated to star in the upcoming spy thriller “Salt.” The latest trailer for this story about an American spy wrongfully identified as a Russian double agent looks like run-of-the-mill stuff. The clip immediately calls to mind the “Mission: Impossible” films and, to a lesser degree, “Minority Report.” Throw in a dash of James Bond, Jason Bourne and assorted Arnold Schwarzenegger titles, and you have a thoroughly generic, big-budget, summer tentpole popcorn romp.
I have little doubt that “Salt” will be entertaining — taken for what it is. The film has a more than capable director in Philip Noyce (“Rabbit-Proof Fence”) and a very good screenwriter in Brian Helgeland (“Mystic River,” “LA Confidential), but that doesn’t change this film’s obvious target audience: every living human being with a working set of eyeballs. I don’t know if the filmmakers could have released a more generic looking trailer.
As I watched the clip, I tried to picture Tom Cruise in Jolie’s place and had absolutely no problem doing so — no pausing or eye closing required. Moreover, I could easily picture any number of marquee stars filling Jolie’s role. So while “Salt” will, doubtless, prove an adrenaline soaked, heart-pounding good time, don’t expect it to rack up multiple 2011 Oscar nominations. In other words, if charming independent gems with little fanfare is your thing, “Salt” is likely to induce a migraine — or make your head explode.
On the other hand, if explosions, nonstop action sequences, last-second escapes, car chases, death-defying, CGI-embellished stunts, and spasmodic, slight-of-hand editing is your thing, welcome to popcorn paradise.
Angelina Jolie does her best Tom Cruise impression starting July 23.
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