Tuesday, July 27, 2010

SALT - Goes Well With Coke & Popcorn

SALT (spy thriller)
Cast: Angelina Jolie, Liev Schreiber, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Alex Pettyfer, Gaius Charles, Victor Slezak and Marion McCorry
Director: Phillip Noyce
Screenplay: Kurt Wimmer and Brian Helgeland
Time: 98 mins
Rating: * * * (out of 4)

Schreiber, Ejiofor and Jolie in SALT

Someone must have thrown some salt over the shoulder for this movie because it has been blessed with a bit of luck. One instance is the substitution of Angelina Jolie for Tom Cruise for its title character. This definitely gives the Cold War espionage caper more sex appeal - a sort of 'Jane Bourne' with boobs and high heels, prancing about Washington DC and New York City, trying to solve a complicated double-agent case.

The second is the recent real-life news of Russian spies found in the USA - lending credence to its plot that there are still Russian 'sleepers' trying to wreak havoc on America (as opposed to modern terrorist attacks, of course). The third is the choice of Phillip Noyce, who had helmed Tom Clancy's classics like and Clear And Present Danger and Patriot Games, as director. His experience with films about political intrigue is certainly welcome here.

WHAT'S IT ABOUT? Jolie is Evelyn Salt, a CIA agent who interrogates a Russian defector (Daniel Olbrychski as Orlov) who reveals that she (Salt) is in fact a Russian sleeper agent who will assassinate the President of Russia (Olek Krupa) during his upcoming visit to New York City. She worries that her husband (August Diehl) might be in danger and therefore doesn't want to wait around while her bosses work out whether or not she is guilty as charged. She breaks out of the CIA building and heads straight to NYC, where, we will discover, the truth about her affiliations and mission.

HITS & MISSES: Like the Bond and Bourne films, the 'one-woman-against-the-world' plot has to be taken with more than a proverbial pinch of salt. Still, Jolie has us rooting for her right from the start not just because of her gender but because she has the well-being of her German hubby and their pet dog at heart. Indeed, Jolie has developed a lot since her Lara Croft days - and she is surer of herself and her role as kick-ass agent. Liev Schreiber and Chiwetel Ejiofor support admirably as Salt's CIA boss and federal agent respectively.

The problem most people would have with Salt is its preposterous plot and twists that come with lots of plot holes. Throughout the movie we would be wondering how Jolie's character plays out - but the actions of her Evelyn Salt is not satisfactorily explained. Suffice it is to say that at 95 minutes, Salt gives enough taste and spice to an entertaining summer outing.

THE LOWDOWN: Salt goes pretty well with Coke and popcorn.


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