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movie review: Salt

Reviews
by Leonard Maltin
July 23, 2010 4:00 AM
7 Comments
  • |

Salt moves like a bullet, and almost never stops to take a breath; as a result, neither do we. I can’t think of a recent film that’s maintained such a breakneck pace or made me so unaware of time flying by. This is beneficial, because the story doesn’t always make sense…but when a film is this energetic and entertaining, it would be a shame to spoil the fun by demanding too much of it.

Angelina Jolie is well cast as a CIA operative who has survived torture and imprisonment in North Korea and wound up at a desk job in Washington, D.C. Then an unexpected turn of events impels her to (literally) run for her life.

Jolie’s athleticism is put to especially good use here. She’s one of the few actresses around who can—

—make me believe she’s really leaping from a highway overpass onto a passing truck below or hanging onto an eleventh-floor building ledge. (According to director Phillip Noyce, she did perform most of her stunts, with the aid of invisible movie trickery.) Her commitment to the often-elusive character of Evelyn Salt, as well as her physicality, makes the movie work as well as it does.

Liev Schreiber is a bit more transparent as her longtime colleague, and Chiwetel Ejiofor does yeoman service as an FBI agent who doesn’t trust anyone. But this is unmistakably a vehicle for Angelina Jolie (even though the role was originally written for a man).

Screenwriter Kurt Wimmer, who visited this territory before in The Recruit, has concocted a fairly outlandish story, even though its central idea of sleeper cells is valid and intriguing. I’m afraid I saw his climactic “big reveal” coming almost a mile away, but he and Noyce have filled the movie with enough colorful details of how a well-trained spy operates to maintain a fair degree of suspense. My chief complaint is that I can't buy a key element in the makeup of the central character, which I can’t reveal.

The result is a movie that’s diverting and genuinely exciting to watch. I wish its story were air-tight, but even with its flaws it provides solid entertainment and a great showcase for its star.
 

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7 Comments

  • Jarod | January 23, 2011 6:48 AMReply

    "SALT" REVIEW

    BOMB

    I hate audience-manipulative movies that think they can compensate story logic and coherence by having a pretentious star in the lead. As if the actor's mere appearance is worth the price of admission alone. This condescends the intelligence of the viewer, I believe. As for Salt, a confusing brew of preposterousness and absurd-ridden action scenes, this movie fits the bill, alright.

    Jolie's character always manages to escape the impossible, either by diving off an overpass onto a semi, which would kill any human being, or eluding sheets of bullets spewing from all directions. She must have an internal GPS for home electrical units; the whereabouts of which have nothing on her.

    But more than anything, I can't stand those looks of pretension wore on Jolie's obnoxious face. Whenever she's handcuffed, she gives the passersby, or the antagonists, those such looks.

    The aforementioned statements of complaint just scrape the tip of the iceberg. This is Plan 9 from Outer Space material.

  • Jason | July 28, 2010 6:49 AMReply

    I have to disagree, Rich. While I like plausibility in films it's only one element that a story can work with. I'll agree that what made a film like Red Eye so good was that the plot was presented in a very believable fashion (i.e. you could see yourself in this character's situation). While Salt definitly had one foot in reality, to me that wasn't what drove the film. It's an action roller-coaster thiller much like the Bourne films and while it would've been nice if it satyed more level-headed it was the highflying suspense scenes that made it exciting (for me at least).

  • RICH | July 28, 2010 3:11 AMReply

    i totally disagree..plausibility is important...i constantly ask questions..could this happen? is it realistic? if not, i am not interested. look at action films like Red Eye...entirely plausible..in my opinion,plausibility is important, buddy
    hammer@live.com.ph

  • Anis | July 25, 2010 9:20 AMReply

    Red Belt was an awesome movie!

  • Anis | July 24, 2010 7:43 AMReply

    I watched "Salt" 2 days ago and I must admit: it was fun to watch. It wasn't great, but still entertaining.

    Bob, I think leonard's book usually comes out in August. Im always one of the first to grab the newest edition. I can't wait for the new book!

  • Jason | July 24, 2010 6:21 AMReply

    According to Amazon his guide comes out August 3rd. Totally picking it up!

    I liked Salt as well. I think it joins the ranks of Day and Knight and The Losers as far as fun (if not filling) movie entertainment. I hope Chiwetel Ejiofor gets better roles. I've been following him since 'Red Belt' and I hope he gets another good starring vehicle sometime soon.

  • Bob | July 23, 2010 12:35 PMReply

    Hi Leonard,
    I don't have a question or comment about "Salt" (I didn't see it) but I just wanted to ask: When is your newest movie guide being sold? I hope to find it in a store soon.
    Thanks,
    Bob.

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