5 Aug

Title: Salt
Year: 2010
Director: Phillip Noyce
Writers: Kurt Wimmer and Brian Helgeland
Starring: Angelina Jolie, Liev Schreiber, Chiwetel Ejiofor
MPAA Rating: PG-13, intense sequences of violence and action
Runtime: 100 min
Major Awards:
IMDb Rating: 6.7
Rotten Tomatoes: 58%

I really liked Salt, I mean, yes, the plot may be predictable and illogical and whatnot, but it has Angelina Jolie in the title role, and she’s the one that makes this one work. And in this one you get to see why she is one of the most reliable stars around in Hollywood, she’s seriously good in this one, not in the way she was in A Mighty Heart or Changeling in which her performance was brilliant, but good in the way she was in Wanted a couple years ago, in which she knew the role she was in, and knew exactly what to do to make an action film work. That’s what’s so damn good about Angelina Jolie, she can be Oscar good when you need her to just as she can be a good sport in an action flick and guide you through the explosions and the chases.

Tom Cruise was originally set to play the title character, he left production to do Knight and Day instead, a film that wasn’t bad but that wasn’t as good as this one, and I think it was good for us that he dropped out, we got to see a decent enough Tom Cruise film, and then we had Salt rewritten for a female actor and be a much better film than it ever could have been with Mr. Cruise as the lead.

Salt is not the female answer to the Bourne franchise, I mean it does have a lot of similarities, but it’s not as great as those films were. It is still, though, a really solid spy thriller, the difference between the Bourne films and Salt isn’t the reliable lead, Angelina Jolie is just as good in this one as Matt Damon was in those films, but the Bourne franchise, being based on a great trilogy by author Robert Ludlum and all, had a terrific plot, while Salt has a plot that’s illogic pretty much every other step it takes. I don’t mean that in a bad way though, the plot may be completely implausible but it’s fun, and this is a film that was released in the thick of the summer season, and the only thing films released in that frame attempt is to be fun, and this an above average thrill ride, which is why I found Salt to be a tremendous success.

The action in Salt is pretty awesome, and this is the sort of film that works so well because of the action and not because of the plot in between the action. You see, this film moves at such a rapid pace and with such tremendous momentum that you don’t really get the benefit to thoroughly think over the plot you have just seen, and even though it is a flawed plot you will only get the chance to see those errors once you leave the theatre and start thinking in retrospect. One of the co-writers is Brian Helgeland, and he has done that same thing twice before this year, with Green Zone and Robin Hood, both films I liked quite a bit but felt there was something missing story-wise, this one’s actually much better than those two I think. Kurt Wimmer, the other co-writer, had previously done Street Kings and Law Abiding Citizen, and this one’s a marked improvement over both of those films.

Evelyn Salt, the titular character played by Ms. Jolie, is a woman who can apparently defy every single law of physics and we won’t care because a) She’s Angelina Jolie and we wouldn’t doubt a single thing she allegedly did and b) This is an action film and we don’t care because the stunts at least are wicked cool, and the stunts were allegedly all done by Ms. Jolie herself, so at least there was that degree of realism behind it all. What’s good about Salt is the way that it knows it has flaws, you know it does because every time there’s a new twist in the movie it spends no time overanalyzing the consequences it will have, but instead it just uses it as an excuse for another chase scene, that’s the sort of film I like, one that at least acknowledges its flaws and uses them to go back to playing its strengths.

All in all this is just one pretty fantastic action film, that’s all you need to know, notice how I’m saying nothing about the plot, that’s because it’s good enough, flawed as it may be, but all it does is get you to see action scenes after action scenes. Action scenes that have in Ms. Jolie a very willing and talented performer, in Mr. Noyce a director who certainly knows how to craft them, and in John Gilroy, the younger brother of Tony Gilroy, an editor who knows how to put the shots together to make it work as well as it does here, this is the same guy that worked on his brother’s fantastic Michael Clayton, so you know he’s good at his job.

I wouldn’t mind giving Salt a grade in the A-range, I won’t because those holes in the plot did actually bother me a little bit after I finished watching it, but if someone comes along and tells me that’s the grade he or she would give to this move I would be totally okay and proceed to converse about all that was good about Salt. Because that’s the thing, there are a lot of good things about Salt, the best of which is Angelina Jolie, and as a fun summer spy action thrill-ride it works in more ways than one, and because it never pretended to be anything more I highly recommend it.

Grade: B+


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