Salt is a CIA operative who, during an interview with a Russian walk in named Orlav, is accused of being a sleeper Russian spy with plans to assassinate the Russian President. Liev Schreiber co-stars as Ted Winter, Evelyn’s colleague and friend who at first can’t believe the accusations but finds himself starting to doubt her innocence as the film progresses. Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Peabody, the agent in charge of apprehending Salt before her alleged mission is carried out.
Salt is the Jason Bourne-esque espionage thriller which originally had Tom Cruise attached to it. Apparently Cruise dropped out to do Knight and Day, and I’m wondering if that turned out to be such a good choice for him. Salt has a lot of the typical traits of your standard espionage thriller; intrigue, action, chase scenes and nifty gadgets, she’s even a bit of a MacGuyver as well. She packs light, but efficiently and really, that is something most women have trouble doing. She can handle herself and her weapons and even displays a bit of parkour with out exerting much more than a light grunt. She also has the smarts to kick off her heels before she runs and after changing her clothes, goes with sensible shoes. That’s not something you see very often.
This film served up pretty much what I expected, as director Phillip Noyce who is no stranger to the espionage thriller genre, having done Clear and Present Danger and Patriot Games previously (but the major win was Blind Fury with Rutger Hauer – not an espionage thriller but full of awesome none the less). Noyce keeps the action going and doesn’t let the film get stagnant, there are foot chase scenes, car chase scenes, fist fights, shoot outs, explosions, and alternative uses for fire extinguishers.
The leads, Jolie, Schreiber and Ejiofor all handle their roles as they should, each are fine actors in their own right and it’s no different in this film. Jolie likes to play those female leads that are tough and can kick your ass, she’s good at it and should continue playing those types of roles. However that being said, my one complaint I have with the film lies with her character.
The problem isn’t how she played it, it’s more of an issue of how the character was written. We don’t get to find out too much about her. We know she’s CIA and she’s been through some pretty hairy situations in her time with the agency. She’s married and her husband is the main reason she goes on the run. But that’s about it. There is a tad more info, but for the sake of keeping this spoiler free, I won’t mention it. The film tells the story of their relationship through flashbacks but you don’t get a real sense of how deep their union runs. Yeah, you know she loves him, but the reasons she does what she does isn’t so much explained as it is implied. The character of the husband is quite muted and you don’t feel his presence much in the film at all.
I adore both Liev Schreiber and Chiwetel Ejiofor and was very pleased to see them both in this. For some reason Schrieber gets cast in an agent-type role often. He’s got THAT look. He just fits. The rest of the cast is relatively forgettable as the film is basically centered on the main three. There is a blink-and-you-miss-him cameo by Andre Braugher, which took me by surprise.
I don’t think it’s any surprise that the studio would like to turn this into a franchise if they could. The film definitely ended in a way that other stories could be told using the Salt character. Time will tell however and if the box office doesn’t show it, the studio probably won’t go for it. If it remained a stand alone film, that would be fine too. It can really go either way.
While I wasn’t disappointed in the film, I wasn’t overly excited afterwards either. I can honestly just say, I liked it but I didn’t LOVE it. It was entertaining and surprisingly complex in parts, but in the end I would have liked a bit more cohesion and motive. I had tweeted prior to the movie starting that I was getting ready to watch Salt and I hoped it would make me forget that I didn’t have any on my popcorn. It helped take my mind off the fact, but I still missed it.
Salt opens in the UK on August 20th.
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