Friday, July 23, 2010

Movie Review: Salt

She Bang-Bangs
Salt lets ladies be lethal

Watching Salt is a contemplation of whether the increasingly skeletal frame of Angelina Jolie is capable of producing enough force to actually harm another human. It’s not likely, given that she was seemingly given the largest, most ridiculous wig not currently on Nicholas Cage just to keep her from blowing off set.

Why does this matter? Because beyond the crippling weight mandate Hollywood refuses to release females from, Salt is blissfully empowering and delightfully unapologetic about its lead. Originally written for former human action figure Tom Cruise, Kurt Wimmer thankfully did not appear to holistically change his script to configure stunts or subplots more befitting of the fairer sex so much as he seems to have hit “find and replace” to swap “she” for “he.” The result is a run-of-the-mill actioner turned slightly less run-of-the-mill-y. It ain’t feminism at gunpoint, but it beats bosom-heaving, damsel-in-distress buffoonery.

Evelyn Salt (Jolie), who would have been Edwin A. Salt had Cruise not split, is a C.I.A. agent who loves her husband Mike (August Diehl), gets along with her boss Ted Winter (Liev Schreiber) and may or may not be a super-secret Russian agent embedded in the U.S. since she was a child. From the moment an alleged defector suggests that Salt may be more Yakov Smirnoff than Jason Bourne, she’s on the run. Mostly dodging the assault of counterintelligence agent Peabody (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a character so underdeveloped his name is rarely if ever used, Salt begins unraveling the Russkie plot, which unlike the real-life recent Russian spy scandal, has stakes that exceed “being really weird.”

With a plot as slender as its lead, Salt retains a few surprises, legitimately prolonging “is she or isn’t she a Kremlin lover” until late in the third act. Director Phillip Noyce not only shoots the physics-and-limits-of-Jolie’s-body defying stunts with graceful aplomb, he keeps the pace fluttering between exhilarating and “okay, seriously, just stop for a second.” Were the dialogue not filled with more lead than Jolie’s glock clip and had the final shootout not been set against a computer’s slowly ticking upload percentage, Salt would have been a damn-fine escapist romp.

Given that Jolie successfully carried a movie where the significant male was played by Liev Schreiber, here’s hoping the legacy of Salt is that girls can carry a stupid summer flick as good as boys can. So give them more opportunities, and give Jolie a sandwich while you’re at it.

Grade – B-

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Absolutely LOVE the first sentence (oh and the rest of the review too)!

July 24, 2010  
Blogger Ryan said...

Thank you, dear anonymous reader! It's really sad that she keeps disappearing.

July 24, 2010  

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