Cast: Angelina Jolie, Liev Schreiber
Director: Phillip Noyce
Angelina Jolie's new spy-thriller Salt is an exciting action blockbuster that succeeds where Tom Cruise's Knight and Day so badly failed. Both films may be different in genre and tone, but Salt never forgets the basic requirement of a summer action movie -- deliver plenty thrills, but give the audience a protagonist they can root for.
Jolie stars as Evelyn Salt, a veteran CIA operative who's accused of being a Russian spy. She insists she's innocent, but her bosses don't seem to believe her. Next thing you know she's on the run…jumping on speeding trucks, crawling across the ledge of a building, zooming around on a motorcycle dodging a stream of bullets.
The film's plot is ridiculous and makes very little sense when you look back on it, but to be fair, you're engaged while its unfolding. What's interesting is the manner in which your perspective and your trust of the character keeps shifting during the film, based on the new information that comes your way from time to time.
Salt works for two reasons. The action, which is fast-paced and relies on actual dare-devilry over CGI and special effects. And the fact that it's a woman, and more specifically, Angelina Jolie who's kicking ass on screen.
It's no secret that this film was originally written for Tom Cruise, who dropped out saying it felt too similar in spirit to his Mission Impossible movies. If you think about it, Cruise might never have been able to pull off this morally ambiguous character. It's hard to see him as anything but the archetypal all-American hero. With Jolie, she makes the character more of a mystery; she blurs the line between victim and villain.
The film's director Phillip Noyce brings an old-fashioned authenticity to the action, so when Jolie leaps from a height onto the top of a truck, you can hear your heart pound. Think about it, in these days of super-slick, SFX-heavy set pieces, when was the last time you were actually worried about a character in a dangerous action scene?
At a running time of a crisp 100 minutes, this film moves at a frenetic pace, which is a good thing, given that it doesn't allow you much time to ponder over its silliness. I'm going with three out of five for Salt; it's worth a watch for the sheer conviction Angelina Jolie brings to this unpretentious, exhilarating entertainer. Don't miss it.
Rating: 3 / 5
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Mimoh Satdeve, Mumbai
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