SALT (2010)

 Greetings again from the darkness. Remember the Alamo! Remember the Cold War! OK, the Alamo has nothing to do with this, but if you can remember Russia as a superpower and the bad guy whom the U.S. spent years and billions trying to out-spy and out-defend, then this story might makes some sense to you. Of course, the story matters little here. What matters is the action and it is actually high octane and quite fun.

Angelina Jolie has always reminded me of the scene in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid when Strother Martin is testing out Sundance’s shooting skills. When he misses the first target, Sundance asks “Can I move?”. He then proves he is much better when he moves. Angelina is the same. In her films that let her “move”, she is amazing. Think Mr. and Mrs. Smith vs. Changeling. The first she seems a natural, the second she came across as miscast. In this film, she does things no human being could do, but does these things with such commitment, that we actually believe she is capable. Her actions often border on parkour … especially when in an elevator shaft or bounding from truck to truck on a freeway.  We accept these stunts because it’s Angelina.

Support work is provided by Liev Schreiber and Chiwetel Ejiofor, both who spend much of the movie trying to figure out how Angelina does the things she does … surrounded by their teams of weapons experts. Most of the time, the way she is outnumbered leaves you thinking that if she gets out of this jam, this movie is just stupid. But once she has escaped, you just feel a little more pumped up! That’s a sign of a fun action movie.

Sure, the story is ridiculous at most points and the plot holes are more canyons than holes, but it’s kind of nice to re-visit the double or triple spy days, especially when placed within daring stunts and chases that work.

The director of this is Phillip Noyce, who is best known for a couple of the Tom Clancy adaptations – Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger. Mr. Noyce got me hooked 20 years ago on a little film called Dead Calm, starring a very young Nicole Kidman. That is a taut little thriller that takes place mostly on a sail boat in the middle of the ocean. If you’ve never seen it, you should.

So in regards to Salt, I will say that it’s a fun action-thriller in a twisty little cold war spy setting. Don’t get caught up in the plot details and just enjoy the action sequences by Angelina Jolie. Not very often I recommend ignoring a faulty script, but I actually enjoyed this one.

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