Monday, July 26, 2010

Salt, a Review of Angelina Jolie's Epic Spy Thriller

Salt: Poster: Angelina Jolie | A Constantly Racing Mind
Check your children they may be a Russian Spy

Salt opened to large crowds as expected, opening day was well attended for this action thriller.  Angelina Jolie, female action star extraordinaire takes us on a wild ride of action and suspense, While in the news real Russian spies are being uncovered today.  Liev Schreiber ("X-Men Origins: Wolverine," "Defiance") is CIA agent Ted Winter, and Chiwetel Ejiofor ("Serenity," "Children of Men") is FBI agent Peabody. From the mind of writer of "Equilibrium," "Ultraviolet," and "Law Abiding Citizen," Kurt Wimmer brings many of his past film influences together in the character of Evelyn Salt. Directed by Phillip Noyce, "Salt" is rated PG-13 and has plenty of smart action.

The film begins with Evelyn Salt(Jolie) being tortured in a North Korean prison. Later she is released in a prisoner exchange meeting up with the man who later becomes her husband, Mike Krause (August Diehl - "Inglourious Basterds"). Evelyn returns to her job at the CIA and working with her colleague Ted Winter (Schreiber), and after a long day at the CIA office, Salt and Winter are on their way out, when they are told they have a walk-in. A Russian defector has come into CIA HQ and says he has valuable information, Winters and Salt head for the interrogation room, where they confront a man by the name of Orlov (Daniel Olbrychski). After a brief confrontation with Salt, she gets up to leave; Orlov, in his thick Russian accent says, that the a Russian Agent has come to the United States to kill the Russian President, who is attending the funeral of the American Vice President.  Huh? Russians killing Russian? Of course this most likely lead to war, and the Russians, being outraged, would strike first.  Here's the kicker, the Russian agent, Orlov says is... Evelyn Salt.  Immediately FBI agent Peabody (Ejiofor) jumps in and wants to hold Salt. Winters, defending his colleague remains calm.  Taking Orlov to a holding cell, he breaks free, (didn't they strip search him?) killing his guards and escapes.  In the confusion, Salt breaks out of the interrogation room where she was being held and she too escapes, seemingly worried about her husband. This takes place all in the first twenty minutes and sets the frantic Borne-like pace for the most of this picture. 

What director, Phillip Noyce does best, is that sets Salt apart from films like "Shooter," "Eagle Eye," and "Vantage Point," is that he gives us clues little by little as the action unfolds teasing us with little bits of information to cause one to speculate and postulate, who is who in this film. Revealing early in the film that a master spy trained Russian children from birth ("Hitman") to infiltrate the United States as sleeper agents that were exchanged early in their childhood. Information is fed to Ejiofor's character's cell phone as FBI analysts (all crime shows have geeky analyst feeding information) to him revealing details about Salt's past.  Another thing Noyce, does well is the close quarter combat fights that unlike, the Jason Borne films, left the audience seasick.  Reading up on the story I found that the part of Salt was supposedly supposed to be a man, but changed for Jolie to a woman.  Which leads me to believe that writer Kurt Wimmer, may have had the original Salt dress in drag for one Mission-Impossible-like scene.  Other scenes in the film are complete red herrings designed to through the audience off, but are subtle enough not to annoy.  If I were to tell you about them, of course, I would have to kill you. 

Salt: Liev Schreiber, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Angelina Jolie | A Constantly Racing Mind

James Newton Howard's musical score is odd in this film, at points being very James Bond spy-ish, and at other times moving into choral or classical motifs.  The "Batman Begins" composer, brings in the music in very subtle at times and other somewhat overpowering.  The stunts for the film are exceptional and as mentioned before not nauseating in that you can follow who is getting punched by who.  The story is unfolds at a decent pace intertwined with action to keep you paying attention for details.  Chiwetel Ejiofor's character, however, is in some ways, a dead giveaway to how the story will turn out. If you have seen "Serenity," where he plays an Alliance Operative chasing Nathan Fillion and crew around the universe.  He does that part well, and in the end the result is predictable.  Liev Schreiber does well as either the good guy or the bad guy in a film and just watching him in Salt made me want to re-watch "Defiance": just to review his performance.  Angelina Jolie, looking pale and a bit more gaunt does an excellent job at keeping the audience from guessing till the end where her loyalties lay. No sex or romance, Salt is a pure action spy thriller intent on doing one thing, entertain you for 100 minutes of your life. 


Movie Data

Genre: Action, Crime, Mystery, Thriller
Year:  2010
Staring: Angelina Jolie, Liev Schreiber, Chiwetel Ejiofor, August Diehl, Daniel Olbrychski
Director: Phillip Noyce
Producer(s): Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Sunil Perkash
Writer: Kurt Wimmer
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 100 minutes
Release Date:  7/23/2010
Originally published on Associated Content on 7/26/2010 by Robert Barbere