Angelina Jolie, for all intents and purposes, makes a female version James Bond or Jason Bourne if you look at sequences of being chased by her people, in her new movie Salt movie. There is really no surprise that Jolie, who could be considered as the only real female action star in Hollywood, can be more than measuring up to Daniel Craig.
Salt movie 2010 movie, directed by Phillip Noyce, is a neo-cold-war action thriller. It’s fast-paced, smart, subversive and knocked out with such verve and attack that you’re not in the least bit bothered by how far-fetched it all is. Angelina Jolie plays the famously gender-bendered role originally earmarked for Tom Cruise, and here we might pause to consider this sexist world in which a similar transition would be unthinkable for The Expendables.
Anyway, Angelina’s character is a CIA’s special agent Evelyn Salt. Salt movie is made of sterner stuff, she is the kind that can survive a North Korean prison without giving up the name of her employer. Back in D.C. and married to a nice though naive German arachnologist (August Diehl), she is assigned to CIA desk duties. One day, when a supposed Russian defector (Daniel Olbrychski) walks in, she accompanies her hard-bitten colleagues Winter (Liev Schreiber) and Peabody (Chiwetel Ejiofor) on a difficult job debriefing a Russian defector who says he’s got very important information. Apparently, there is a Russian mole in CIA’s ranks, a “sleeper” agent ready to carry out an atrocious act, and this is Evelyn herself. Being horrified with the information turning her life and the whole CIA upside down, Salt movie has to go on the run because no one believes in her innocence. She has to battle both baddies and goodies to clear her name and foil an assassination plot.
The script by Kurt Wimmer has channeled the spirit of The Manchurian Candidate via the Jonathan Demme’s remake. Evelyn Salt movie is not merely a super-fit martial-arts ninja but a mistress of disguise.
Donning several guises while on the run in Columbia’s spy thriller, she even turns up as a guy in one scene. She makes a pretty ugly one, but it makes an amusing gag, a kind of acknowledgment that kick-ass action heroes now come in both genders.
To be honest, Salt movie movie seems to be a better Bond movie than most recent Bond movies. The movie’s makers do their best to keep the stunts real and severely limit CGI gimmickry. This is a slick, light summer entertainment that should throw considerable coin into Sony’s coffers while re-establishing Jolie’s bona fides as an action star. The movie certainly didn’t need the assist, but recent news events have erased any objection from critics, tied to laws of plausibility, over the movie’s key concept that Russian sleeper spies still exist in the U.S. long after the fall of the Soviet Union. Another talking point, there is the similarity between this movie and the action-spy thriller of Knight and Day. There are astonishing similarities with an American spy believed to be a rogue agent gets chased by the CIA, and the protagonist escaping by leaping from one fast-moving vehicle to another on a major thoroughfare. These similarities only point up how smart Salt movie is in crafting its escapist fare. Noyce and his stunt guru Simon Crane make sure the stunts in Salt full movie look like a dangerous and demanding day at the office, while in Knight and Day, the movie’s absurd physicality is played as effortless clowning replete with repartee that is supposed to remind you of 007 but in fact is embarrassingly flat and banal.
Propelled by James Newton Howard’s nerve-teasing music and enhanced by Robert Elswit’s clear-eyed, smartly positioned cameras, the movie moves ever forward by pushing, pushing, pushing its heroine to greater feats every minute. It doesn’t stop for martinis, either shaken or stirred, or any other detours. The movie is lean and muscular, looking for action even in situations where a little sleight of hand might have done the trick.
There isn’t any slowing down to consider the human factor. Salt is married; let’s dig into that. A marriage between an agent and a civilian is never explored. In making the husband a problem that needs solving, and that is where the movie stumbles badly. At the end of the day, “Who is Salt?” is less a tagline than a criticism. Eventually, you know what Salt is, but who she is isn’t satisfactorily resolved. In story terms, that is, but in Hollywood terms, there’s never any doubt: Salt is Angelina Jolie.