Movie Review: “Salt”
“Salt” premiers with high expectations partly (or probably, mainly) due to Angelina Jolie. I love spy-thriller movies but couldn’t recall seeing one with a female lead. Jolie is, without a doubt, the obvious choice for the role. There are very few female stars who could open a blockbuster action movie. Milla Jovovich is one, Kate Beckinsale is another, but they’re more fantasy-based. It would be unfair to compare “Salt” to “Wanted,” as that, is fantasy-based too (bullet-bending, anyone?), as with “James Bond.”
A fairer comparison would be the “Bourne” starring Matt Damon. While “Salt” didn’t blow me away like “Bourne,” it’s a good, old-fashioned spy-thriller with a throwback to the Cold War era. And Jolie, with her physical prowess and photogenic presence, pulls off a secret agent like a pro. There are scenes that elicit oohs-and-aahs, specifically with the ways she uses a gun without shooting or chain link from her handcuff to disarm someone.
There have been female undercover operatives who are worth their salt (no pun intended). Valerie Plame is arguably the most famous case in recent history. Clandestine work is inherently alluring and I wish Salt’s motivations are explored further in place of (still) over-the-top violence. In real life Salt would have bruises and broken bones all over during the continuous chase and shootout scenes, or even fall into a certain death.
I do appreciate purposeful acts that may seem minor are built in to give a touch of realism. You can’t help but notice the way she removes her stilettos before taking off running or jumping sideways gradually down through the elevator shaft instead of leaping straight down like a superhuman. Adding flashback scenes to her training days at Langley and exploring the relationship with her handler would add more depth to the story.
So just who is Evelyn Salt? What’s her allegiance? Is she a CIA agent gone rouge? What about her husband? Does she really get framed? If so, by whom and for what purpose? How would she prove herself on the haunt? Or could it be that she is indeed a double agent?
All of these questions surprisingly get answered in the end. And the closing scene doesn’t tie everything up; instead, get ready for a sequel! “Salt” is a relatively tasty summer treat.