Ah, “Salt” … my cholesterol has been through the roof in anticipation for this film. The marketing strategies have been fantastic, from the Facebook teasers, Twitter sneak peaks, to the Day X games. Finally, “Salt” is in theaters and I, of course, could not wait to see it. My expectations were beyond high. With Angelina Jolie headlining, and Liev Schreiber at her side, I was prepared for nothing less than a thrill ride, a promising action flick with a complex plot, right up my ally.
Evelyn Salt is a CIA agent who works with, and is also very good friends with, Ted Winter (Schreiber). When an informant comes forward with a tip concerning the Russian president — a massive project known as Day X organized by Russians\ — he also tags Salt as a Russian Spy. When she flees, everybody is on the hunt and nobody is quite sure what to think of Salt, is she a Russian spy or is she being set up on a grander scale?
Unfortunately, the story was a bit bland for my taste. Predictability was around every corner and nothing was a surprise or unforeseen. There were not as many action scenes as I had hoped, but I will say that the ones that were present were really well done. One of the things I’ve always appreciated about Angie is that she does her own stunt work. What Salt does in the film, Angie did. For “Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle Of Life,” there’s a scene where the two main characters jump from a building sporting “flying suits,” it was long rumored that Jolie wanted to perform the stunt herself but due to insurance liability concerns, was not allowed. Does it get any more bad ass than that?
There was one action scene in particular that I absolutely loved, and without giving anything away, all I’ll say is it involves a pair of handcuffs (get your minds out of the gutter) and a bad guy. Many scenes took the experience Salt would have as a CIA agent and made use of them in a practical sense, which I thought was spectacular. I suppose the problem was not that the film lacked action, it just wasn’t full of “Wanted” action. That movie was such a staple for Jolie and I was expecting something along those lines.
“Salt” turns from plausible to over indulgent and has no real payoff in the end. On the positive side, films with no big surprise where there should have been one make us little folk feel super smart. Russian spy smart even!
The direction in the film was spot on, so hats off to Phillip Noyce. The camera angles were varied and interesting, which made the film aesthetically perfect for the story’s material. A letdown for me, however, was the music. I hate to keep using “Wanted” as a measuring stick for “Salt,” but where “Wanted” exceeded, “Salt” fell short, especially in the music department. There was no tune that captured the essence of Salt or the mood of the picture. I vaguely recall a fight scene where the music involved people chanting “Salt” repeatedly. The film has strong political undertows, the strongest for me being the statement about North Korea dating a few years back.
I really really wanted to LOVE this film. I love Angie’s action persona, what with the “Tomb Raider” franchise, “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” “Wanted” and even some of her older films like “The Bone Collector.” I came out of the theater not hating or loving “Salt.” It wasn’t a train wreck, it wasn’t a masterpiece, it just was. I was entertained, don’t get me wrong, it’s a fun movie, and definitely worth a watch, if for no other reason then to see some good acting and some very noteworthy scenes. Don’t go in expecting too much, which I know is hard with all the marketing and publicity, especially after last weekend’s Comic Con. This is a film that will entertain you, and is certainly fun to see with a group. It is violent, but not full of blood and guts, and it does have some profanity, which is why it is rated PG-13.
So, who is Salt? Not who I thought.
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Follow Jessika Owens on Twitter at http://twitter.com/jessika.