Salt (with Angelina Jolie)
The best way to describe SALT is that it’s nothing you haven’t seen before, but this time a woman is doing it instead of Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Will Smith or any other spy/action movie, male mega-star. As much as I love watching Angelina Jolie kick, punch and shoot her way through a movie, she proves that no matter who is in the starring role; a spy movie needs a quality script and a patient director. In this case, it’s a mixed bag with the movie feeling smart and sophisticated at times and other times, it felt rushed and poorly thought out.
The basis for the film is that Evelyn Salt (Jolie) is a CIA agent who goes on the run after a Russian defector claims she’s a Russian spy. I tread lightly when it comes to spoilers, so I’ll refrain from giving too much away. But the gist is that at certain times in the film we believe she is not a Russian spy and at other times we believe she is a Russian spy. The entire film is focused on Salt’s predicament, so how much we like and root for her is directly correlated with how much we enjoy the film. This is where it gets tricky. When we believe she is a Russian spy, it’s tough to root for her because at that time, she’s essentially the enemy and the CIA agents on her trail are the good guys. So there’s a big chunk of the movie where we’re not sure we want her to get away with whatever it is she’s doing.
The other detraction from the film is Angelina Jolie herself. I love having a female lead in an action/spy movie and I think Jolie is a superbly talented actress and one of the most beautiful people on earth. But I don’t necessarily find her to be a likeable character. Some actors and actresses are just very likeable onscreen and you find yourself rooting for them at all times, no matter what. But Jolie doesn’t have that and when she does, it takes a lot of time to build her character and establish her as someone we like. SALT fails to do that and although we want her to “win” as much as we want all heroes to “win”, we don’t really enjoy the ride as much as we might with someone a little more charming and a little less ruthless.
Even though the film did have an aura of familiarity, I did really enjoy some of the action stunts. I had a blast with the highway chase, which they added a twist to by having her jump from truck to truck. They also had one of the best bad-guy-killings I’ve seen in a long time, which had the entire audience cheering. This is a fun movie that flows pretty well. And watching Angelina Jolie knock out all the action scenes was a blast and I have to say that she did it better than some of her male counterparts.