Salt: The Killjoy Review
Salt is getting some really good reviews. Generally it's being painted as an above-average action thriller. A classy example of the type of thing Hollywood does really well. This is all has to be due to some of the talent behind the camera.
Aussie ex-pat Philip Noyce directs as if Salt a souped up version of his 90s films like Patriot Games or Clear and Present Danger. Veteran genius cinematographer Robert Elswit makes everything look beautiful despite the grey colour palette and Co-editor Stuart Baird (Lethal Weapon 1 & 2, Die Hard 2, Demolition Man etc) cuts action sequences clearer than most. It's all very accomplished yet the bizarre miscalculations with the screenplay seem to bother few critics.
Salt is essentially an Angelina Jolie saves the world movie which pretends to be a much deeper and interesting film initially. I'm not giving you any spoilers by saying that but I am helping you understand the first two thirds of the film by saying that. Angelina Jolie plays a Russian double agent who gets her cover in the CIA blown by a defecting Russian agent. She goes on the run and begins to finalise her decade long sleeper agent mission of political assassinations.
At this point the film was really fascinating to me. We have a big, jingoistic action film where the protagonist is a Russian agent who is actually doing some rather bad things. The CIA agents trying to catch her aren't even demonised which results in some weird and complex emotional sympathies for the audience.Are we on the CIA's side, trying to hunt down this dangerous Russian agent or are we on our Hollywood superstar's side where she is just trying to get her mission done so she can be with her husband? I mean, shit, she is killing people. Am I supposed to be barracking for a Russian agent who is working against us? Of course we never get her motivation (until the end) and continually see her doing things that aren't explained (but remember, she is saving the world!).
What I found ultimately annoying about Salt was as the film progressed it slowly packed away of all of its interesting ideas into a neat studio safe box. And all for no real successful reason. The loading of ambiguity in the first half of the film does little more than either confuse the audience or suggest that this film could've been a lot more interesting that it actually ends up being. By the end I almost wished the film was just straight with me from the beginning. I would've enjoyed it on that simple level. But instead I got 45 minutes of a really strange concept that looked kinda cool.
Oh well... Salt has Angelina Jolie running a lot, action, big lips, parkour for people who know nothing about parkour, guns, more running, a digital clock countdown climax, a big action score reiterating how exciting everything is and a coy “there's possible sequels here” ending. A sharp supporting cast gives the film a sheen of class (despite the “cutting-room floor” performance of one of my favorite actors, Andre Braugher. Seriously, did he just appear out of the blue in one scene near the end or am I obviously not paying attention? He was 4th billed as well. Maybe I'm not paying attention?)
It will please most people and make decent money at the box office. You'll probably enjoy it (I'm not being condescending here. Hell, I enjoyed it despite my misgivings. It's short, fast and reasonably exciting). Go see it but remember what you read here and get back to me.