Tuesday, August 3, 2010

SALT (2010)

Written by Kurt Wimmer and Brian Helgeland

Directed by Phillip Noyce

Where & When: Arclight Cinemas, Hollywood, CA.  July 27,2010  4:30PM

What do Tom Cruise and Angelina Jolie have in common?

Well, besides being glamorous movie stars, having adopted children and both staring in a action flick this summer, they both were up for the title role in Ms Jolie's film, "Salt". The movie was originally conceived as a vehicle for Mr. Cruise but he decided it was too similar to his role in "Mission: Impossible" and chose to do "Knight and Day" instead, which apparently, is a complete departure from his Ethan Hunt character.

After the gender flip-flop, CIA agent, Edwin Salt became Evelyn Salt, now played by Ms Jolie, who was preparing to leave the office with her friend and fellow agent, Ted Winter (Liev Schreiber) when they are called back. A Russian agent has defected and needs to be questioned.

Salt steps in to interrogate this Russian, Orlov who claims that at the upcoming funeral for the U.S. vice-president that the visiting Russian president will be executed by a Russian sleeper agent to cause friction between the two nations. The name of this spy is Evelyn Salt.

Orlov's brain was being scanned during the interrogation and it appears he is telling the truth. Ted and Peabody (Chiwetel Ejiofor), an ONCIX agent are present during this and want Evelyn to stay behind to be questioned. She is concerned about her husband's safety and wants to go home to check on him but she is told that will have to wait.

While being escorted away, Orlov manages to escape. They place Evelyn in a holding room while they go after the Russian. Salt, who wants to clear her name, is able to use her skill, training and literally, her panties to outmaneuver the CIA to get out of the building.

Now, Salt is on the run and she is an unstoppable, glamazon machine. She is able to leap from one moving truck to another while her make-up stays perfectly in place. She is faster (and smarter) than all of the men of the CIA, police department and Russian agents combined while using guns, grenades and her favorite weapon of choice, her bare hands to take anyone down who stands in her way but still manages to find time to dye her hair.  Although, too often she comes across more like a guy in a wig than a real woman but the real question remains, is she really a CIA agent, a Russian spy or something else?

It was a smart move to change the gender of this character because otherwise it would have been an even more predictable action flick and Ms Jolie was perfectly cast because I can't think of another possible actress who would be even close to being believable in this part. Ms Jolie is easily able to be tough and tender and she convinces you she is certainly somebody you don't want to mess with.

Mr. Noyce, the veteran director of the big budget, big action Harrison Ford vehicles, "Patriot Games"(1992) and "Clear and Present Danger" (1994) and the smaller, "Rabbit-Proof Fence" (2002), is able to take this slight material and distract the audience to make the story seem not so illogical while keeping the action moving and interesting.

"Salt" gives you what you expect from a summer action film, no more and no less. So, if prefer uncomplicated explosions and gunfire with minimally plausible storytelling, than this is the movie for you.

Now that I think about it, perhaps Mr. Cruise and Ms Jolie should have switched parts in their prospective summer movies. Mr. Cruise would have been more comfortable in this type of action movie while Ms Jolie would certainly have had more sexual chemistry with Cameron Diaz than Mr. Cruise did in "Knight and Day".