Angelina Jolie is one of Hollywood’s biggest stars. Hers is a name that is not only plastered across Hollywood gossip magazines on a regular basis or has people clamoring to head to the cinema, but is also one of the highest paid in the industry, and despite it all, I am not a die-hard fan – for a variety of reasons. Somehow, Salt appealed to my cinematic interests, and even though it wasn’t something I had to get a hold of, I still did see it in its first week to DVD.
Evelyn Salt (Jolie) is one of the CIA’s assets. She knows her job and does what is expected of her. Two years ago, she was held in captivity in North Korea after a mission went horrible wrong. Under the impression that no matter who is taken, that agent must be left behind, Evelyn doesn’t understand her release prompted by a prisoner trade with the U.S. Turns out, the one man who she fell in love with while on an assignment – using him for information, turned the world upside down until he learned of her whereabouts. Now, with the truth out between them, she is happily married to German native Michael Krause and working for the CIA in a much more limited capacity. Salt’s handler, Ted Winter (Liv Schreiber) finds her departure from undercover work hard to take but still uses within the capacity of her new role. All about her home life now, Evelyn is about to celebrate her first anniversary, but is detained to interview a Russian claiming that on a trip to America while attending the vice presidents funeral, the Russian president will be assassinated – an accusation that turns her world upside down. Accused of being a Russian spy by this man, Salt is forced to go rogue as she is pursued by all branches of the government. Her husband taken, Salt determines to find him… or was her life really just a cover for a Russian spy…
This all sets into motion a series of conspiracy theories that if allowed to reality, will forever change the way of American lives: Who is Evelyn Salt?
Let’s start with this: It is no great secret that I love a good action flick. Knowing that Angelina is not my favorite celebrity made liking this something of a surprise. There is just something about her that I haven’t ever loved but to be fair, her on-screen monikers generally are “fun.” When Salt first appeared in television spots, it did catch my eye (mainly thanks to that promotion) but for the most part, my curiosity was piqued by its plot – a plot which summed up its entire storyline by one simple tagline. Being a fan of the Bourne trilogy did nothing to damper the allure of such a thriller. To say this isn’t a decently brilliant script wouldn’t be fair to the writers. To say the director didn’t put together one of the most interesting espionage thrillers would be unmerited: Because the truth is that Salt does live up to that tagline.
At its best, confusion and the adventure of the chase is what keeps everything interesting; I was enthralled with the excitement and suspense of the whole premise – which is killing. This isn’t just an action flick; it’s an intelligent “who’s who” that keeps us on edge, guessing any number of possible results. This takes a skillful behind-the-scenes crew because it is rare to be in so much doubt about where plot is going. Here, it can be easy in the final half-hour but beforehand, a masterful job is done creating well thought-out suspense, and danger into one effortlessly sound script. In truth, the plot isn’t plausible because CIA agents going rogue are just unheard of. But as with any good spy caper, the stunts are nothing short of impressive and the car chase, while entirely unbelievable was well planned by stunt coordinators. It’s big, bold and action-packed.
I liked the movie… a lot. Maybe more than I should have, especially considering that I am confident further viewings will unlock more of the “mystery” – the details that at first glance aren’t immediately known. Having said that, both the beginning and ending aren’t well set up; I can appreciate the anti-climatic ending because, most filmmakers want the potential for a sequel, but I cannot agree with the beginning, mainly because, to me, it was never fully explained what it has to do with Salt’s quest for… revenge? …Redemption? …Truth? Or whatever she may be searching for. And, I know, it was meant to have something to do with the greater plot, but the stories didn’t transfer that way. Even in its faults, it’s a good idea, something that is normally absent in movies. We aren’t led to wonder if the hero defines the definition of “hero” or defies the definition of a “villain,” normally there are suspicions of associates or a federal agent but not the protagonist. And the notion that there are suspicious in this case is quite fun.
(What to know: Rated PG13 for a bevy of violence. A woman kills an entire company of her “comrades,” one of whom she uses only a bottle [although the impact is off-camera, blood spurts and the groans of the victim are heard]. The rest are either shot or die from a bomb. Others are shot at point blank range, punched out, or stabbed. An intense fight sequence climaxes things, and in an unexpected flash, a man is choked to death by a chain, snapping his neck instantaneously. Profanity is a part of the dialogue; sh*t, d**m, h*ll, etc is the brunt of it. The story opens with a woman in captivity in only her underwear; her face is bloodied and briefly, instances of torture are involved.)