Could not authenticate you.followers
In the wake of Jason Bourne, a new action thriller takes center stage. Replacing our favorite American spy with an identity crisis is a CIA agent with an ominous past and an uncertain motive. Meet “Salt” and prepare for a new action series worth the price of admission.
Two years after a hostage stint in North Korea, CIA Agent Evelyn Salt (Angelina Jolie) is about to transition to a desk job. That is until a mysterious Russian officer turns himself in, claiming he has information on a Russian attack more than 30 years in the making. He declares that Salt is in fact a Russian KGB officer, infiltrating the U.S. government in preparation for what had become known as “Day X,” where all the sleeper agents would strike. Rather than stick around to sort things out, Salt goes rogue, looking for both answers and her missing husband, Mike Krause (August Diehl). With partner Ted Winter (Liev Schreiber) and Counterintelligence agent Peabody (Chiwetel Ejiofor) close behind, Salt collides with busy roads, law enforcement blockades and enemies on every side; all the while her true loyalties remain unknown.
With a slew of screenplays to his credit (“Law Abiding Citizen”, “The Recruit” and “Street Kings”), writer Kurt Wimmer presents solid structure and believable characters with just enough mystery to make you doubt your original suspicions as the story unfolds. Director Philip Noyce basks in the genre that’s given him plenty of work, with Tom Clancy adaptations and law enforcement stories. But “Salt” shows us that this old dog can still keep the story engaging even though Cold War fear is a 60-year-old subgenre.
The big hype behind “Salt’ is Jolie filling a man’s shoes in a part originally written for Tom Cruise. Can a woman do a man’s job? Too many misogynist comments will certainly fill audiences’ minds (and make their sexist way to Internet forums), but the film doesn’t make Jolie masculine, rather it allows her to organically take on the role. The film is a wonderful fit for the actress, who continually proves her cinematic worth year after year. Rather than banking on a sultry babe sporting big guns in “Wanted”, Jolie’s performance doesn’t feel like a woman doing man’s work but something that goes beyond conventional representations of the sexes. Instead of digressing to a boring “tough girl” – like Uma Thurman in “Kill Bill” – with no real sexual urges, Jolie presents a femininity that is neither the damsel in distress nor the evil temptress. She’s not weak and she doesn’t use her “feminine charm” to get what she wants; the clothes stay on, but the gloves definitely come off. I imagine this one will be examined in gender studies courses for both the recast decision and the resulting depiction. A positive Hollywood example of women in new roles? She does have quite a few action films to her name, so I guess we’ll just have to see where the story goes before any final assessment can be made.
This is Jolie’s film with only minimal parts for Liev Schreiber and Chiwetel Ejiofor, who do their parts well. Jolie’s character progression from beginning to end is quite fascinating. It’s an intense experience with great action—especially hand-to-hand combat scenes.
“Salt” is a strong start to what could be a franchise property as enjoyable as the “Bourne” films. It’s hard not to make such a comparison since Salt finds herself in several precarious positions, barely escaping. All she’s got is her highly skilled combat training and McGyver-esque way with an aerosol can and an office chair. Just bordering over-the-top with a minimum of action film patronizing – like a Counterintelligence agent shooting his gun at Salt, not only in public, but while she’s on top of a moving semi-truck with a gas tank – “Salt” remains agreeable, edge-of-your seat entertainment to the end, even if the story becomes predictable during the climax.
A promising start to a series and great night at the movies, “Salt” is what action films should look like: car chases, gunfights and mystery. Let’s just hope they don’t title the sequel “Pepper”. And don’t worry, Jolie loses the blond hair – that same blond hair that ruined her character in “Gone in 60 Seconds” – quickly, going to the darker locks she does so well.
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.