Starring Angelina Jolie, Liev Schreiber, and Chiwetel Ejiofor
Directed by Philip Noyce (Clear and Present Danger)
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action
Appropriate for ages 13+
Angelina Jolie is just your average CIA officer working overtime when a Russian defector explains to her and her superiors that she is really a spy that has lain dormant for years waiting to be awoken to perform a dastardly duty. In this case it is to kill the Russian President at the U.S. Vice President’s state funeral. Feeling trapped, she somehow uses skills they didn’t know she had to elude capture and proves that she really is a Russian spy, but her motives are not clear to anyone.
There is no doubt that Jolie is a very capable action hero and this girl power spy thriller is a good vehicle for her. But it also smells like a studio trying to remake Jason Bourne into a female-driven franchise. While I like the filming style a heck of a lot more with Noyce than I liked Bourne’s Greengrass, the story isn’t nearly as believable. With Bourne, it’s easy to understand that he has the skills he has, but with Salt, it appears she has the same kind of training, yet her skills ended when she was dropped off at the adoption agency as a child. I’m sure she could have had natural athletic ability, but to do the kinds of things she does here she would have had to have had very recent vigorous combat training. I don’t think her CIA job, as demanding as it was, would have counted. It’s too much of a stretch to think otherwise. So while she totally kicks butt, her butt-kicking is far-fetched.
As for the story itself, just like in Knight and Day, you know that things can’t be as bad as they appear half-way through the film. After all, no studio would green light a film with this kind of budget where the audience would have to root for the villain as she destroys the U.S. So to say it’s predictable is an understatement, but then again, there are many surprises that I did enjoy. And these surprises worked so well because of great acting by a good supporting cast led by Schreiber and Ejiofor. These two are able to make the story flaws seem almost unnoticeable.
Overall, Salt is an exciting thriller and Jolie is very good in it. And while the writers should have come up with a better back story to convince the audience that she was capable of performing like an olympian and fighting like MacGyver, it still makes for a pretty decent piece of action adventure. B-