Angelina this. Angelina that. I’m sick and tired of hearing about Brad and Angelina and their countless marital problems, but I guess I’m alone on this one because the mass media still manages to profit from the misery of these mediocre (at best) performers. I honestly don’t know whose still in Jolie’s fan base — except for balding MILF hunters and the readers of various gossip columns. But maybe I’m missing the hype here because even though I admit she was excellent in Girl, Interrupted and even in the more recent Changeling, she hasn’t done any standout work besides that in her entire career (and please don’t mention Wanted because that film was absolutely horrible in all areas and Jolie was just meant as eye-candy). But then again, I also don’t understand the popularity of the Millennium trilogy, the Harry Potter craze or The Dark Knight even though they’ve all made millions of dollars and are more critically acclaimed.
But enough side-tracking, it’s time to talk about Jolie’s latest endeavor Salt, which is directed by Phillip Noyce (who also directed The Quiet American and Rabbit-Proof Fence), and which pits her in a world of political corruption and deception. As Evelyn Salt, a CIA officer who goes on the run following the accusation that she is a Russian spy by a defector, Jolie does a surprisingly decent job. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been so quick to bash on her acting credentials (what can I say, I’m trigger-happy). Adding to the initial shock, Jolie also nails one key element that her character required — the likability that captures the audience’s cheers and good wishes even through despicable acts of violence.
However, the film which also stars Liv Schreiber as Ted Winter, another CIA agent who is tasked to capture and subdue Salt following her escape, completely ruins Jolie’s performance through its predictability and overall cheese-to-intelligence ratio. The entire plot is just ludicrous and hard to imagine being possible (yes I realize that this is a summer blockbuster but I want some reality to hold onto when I’m trying to engross myself in a film). On top of that, there are several unanswered plot holes that are just neglected to be answered.
At least the action sequences are exciting, though at times it feels like they’re just trying to top those of the Bourne series, which was by far a much better spy thriller. But putting that aside, there are a couple exhilarating explosions and the soundtrack does work in the film’s favor during these intense sequences. However, the last action scene totally jumps the shark and this sends the already inept plot spiraling out of control until its timely crash and burn to which screenwriter Kurt Wimmer proudly announces that this is not the end as the climax very apparently sets up a sequel.
In all, Salt begins as a promising spy thriller that promises to deliver a chess game-esque look at espionage and the good ol’ Russia/United States conflicts (which several films have already capitalized on) but it quickly throws any sense of reality and stability out of the window and thus ruins its chances at being quality cinema. Salt is the worst kind of cinematic treat — too salty yet lacking any sort of spice.