Movie Review: Salt…Honest Abe or Patsy in a Pencil Skirt?

Let me just start by saying that I was not particularly looking forward to witnessing all that is Salt. It was probably because of one of these two reasons: One, the role was originally written for the almighty Tom Cruise as Edwin Salt. He turned it down claiming it was too close to the Mission Impossible franchise, either that, or he had a crazy meeting to attend to about Mel Gibson. Two, Angelina has become bigger than life and is no longer a character in my eyes. She is Angelina Jolie frolicking around a film set for an hour and a half, trying to always look mean, while never losing the sexy.

So, going into this, I thought about how I was going to get around those thoughts and give a critical eye to the film itself. What ended up working for me will make sense if I divulge the plot a little first.

As a CIA officer, Evelyn Salt swore an oath to duty, honor and country. Her loyalty will be tested when a defector accuses her of being a Russian spy. Salt goes on the run, using all her skills and years of experience as a covert operative to elude capture. Salt’s efforts to prove her innocence only serve to cast doubt on her motives, as the hunt to uncover the truth behind her identity continues and the question remains: “Who is Salt?” Written by Sony Pictures

The way I saw it was Angelina Jolie is really a member of the CIA and her cover is that of a mega super star that is married to Brad Pitt. Someone tries to rat her out about being a spy and so she must use all of her mighty skills she has learned from past films such as Mr. and Mrs. Smith and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider to flee the accusers so that she can save her nine kids, or is it seven?

So let’s get down to brass tacks here. I’m surprised to say that I enjoyed the film more than I thought I would. Yes, it was cheesy at times and the CGI/stunt work was questionable in some scenes, but intense in others.

It was easy for me to forget about Tom Cruise being in this film from the first scene. She brought a whole new level of kick-ass woman to the screen, except for the first scene, which of course the director, Phillip Noyce had to put her in some skimpy underwear and beat her for the pleasure of the sickos out there. I’m pretty sure that if Tom had agreed, that scene would not have played out with him in his skimpy boxer-briefs emblazoned with the medallions of Scientology across them. But I digress, other than the opening scene, she was fully clothed and kicking butt.

As for the cheese that is served up with Salt, the worst would have to be the score behind the action scenes. I confirmed this with others in the theater so I don’t think I’m crazy, but there is a choir of voices chanting “Salt” throughout a song and this song was played twice! It was terribly distracting and pretty hilarious. There is also a scene of Salt jumping down an elevator shaft and the shot looked a little shaky because they were obviously trying to blend stunt work with the CGI effects of flawlessly jumping from beam to beam down the shaft.

If you can let those things go or they don’t bother you to begin with, you are on the right track to enjoying a mindless kill-fest of a film. There are endless bodies strewn on the floor as Salt makes her escape from the others. In fact, so much at times, it would have made sense to include Drowning Pool’s “Let The Bodies Hit The Floor” on the soundtrack, seeing as they already have a great start to the score anyway.

However, as much as those bloodless bodies were collecting around her, Jolie still managed to command the screen as she kicked and punched her way through the film. I remember thinking in the beginning, “how much story will they have me sit through before she starts kicking ass?” Actually, it wasn’t long at all. The first action scene was pretty intense as well as this was the point when the FBI wanted to start questioning her about being a Russian spy and she used everyday resources around her to make bombs and escape from the building.

The story gets pretty convoluted at times as you are led to believe that she might actually be a Russian spy, brought into the United States covertly as a young child and raised as an American to one day work for the CIA; a double agent if you will. Then they have you thinking that she might be a triple agent, a member of CIA, who is really a Russian spy who is actually on the US side again working against everyone. Whew! Don’t worry, your head won’t hurt afterward like Inception. This actually pushes these plots to the breaking point of being ridiculous. It’s as if each scene was just trying to one-up the last one. It’s these kind of tricks that leave you to believe that a sequel (if made) to Salt would actually be named Pepper. Hollywood is probably dying to think of a sequel now with that stellar name.

I’m going to recommend this film for the fun that I had watching it. I’m not one for a straight-up action flick, but when its about spies infiltrating our government and a test to see who is corrupt and who is loyal, then I can  stay focused.

I give Salt 3 “Lee Harvey Oswald, infamous patsy” out of 5

by Angela Davis

About Angela

Angela is the Editor-in-Chief of Lost in Reviews. She and Ryan created Lost in Reviews together in 2009 out of a mutual hatred for all the stodgy old farts currently writing film reviews. Since launching the site, Angela has enjoyed reviewing indie films over all other films, picking up new music from all corners of the world and photographing live shows. She is the co-host of Blu Monday and a member of the Kansas City Film Critic Circle.

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