Review: “Salt”

July 28, 2010 at 3:52 pm Leave a comment

Tom Cruise was apparently set to star in Salt, only to turn it down (presumably) for Knight and Day.  Too bad, because that flick, while decent, was an ultimately forgettable action flick destined for Saturday afternoon cable TV repeats.  Salt, however is a solid, slightly comic book-esque chase/espionage thriller, and though Cruise was initially offered the part, this role seemed destined for Angelina Jolie.

So just who is Evelyn Salt (Angelina Jolie)?  She’s a former CIA field agent whose cover was blown and was sent to a North Korean prison.  Bad stuff happened to her, and though she maintained her cover, a swap was organized between the U.S. and North Korea, effectively confirming her position as spy to the entire worldwide intelligence community.  Fast forward sometime later, and Salt still works for the CIA, she’s a desk jockey now, under the direct supervision of Ted Winter (Liev Schreiber).  When a supposed Russian turncoat divulges a plot by Russian agents to kill Russian President Matveyev (Olek Krupa) while in New York City, this obviously alarms the CIA.  Especially when the name of the Russian agent is Evelyn Salt.

Salt then leads the CIA on a chase from Washington, D.C. to New York City and back, attempting to clear her name, rescue her husband Mike (August Diehl), and stop a potential nuclear war between America and the Russian Federation.

The movie flows very briskly from one exciting escape scene to another, with a freeway chase as frenetic as the one in The Bourne Ultimatum.  Jolie proves she can handle action scenes well, and this definitely be the best action role she’s had so far.  The rest of the cast is fine, lead by Schreiber as the loyal boss who wants to believe Salt is innocent, despite damning evidence.  Chiwetel Ejiofor, playing CIA agent Peabody who’s leading the chase for Salt, isn’t really given a whole lot to do aside from run around and yell, but it’s not like he’s a bad actor.  Director Philip Noyce brings a lot of energy to the movie, never letting a dull moment go by.  This whole flick is structured around movement, with the camera almost never stopping and the actors constantly doing something.

The story may have a few people scratching their heads, though.  While this certainly isn’t the mind-bender that Inception was, there are quite a few twists and turns in the plot.  Written by Kurt Wimmer (director of the excellent cult action flick Equilibrium) and Brian Helgeland (A Knight’s Tale), it definitely tries to keep you guessing, leaving the answer to “Is Salt a Russian spy?” ambiguous until the end.

Salt was entertaining to the end, and maybe would’ve fared better at the box office if it came out in the fall or spring instead of the ridiculously crowded summer season.  Still, if you’ve already seen Inception and still need an action fix, Salt is the way to go.

8/10

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