bill bodkin reviews the new angelina jolie action thriller
Sometimes being confused can be a good thing. For the first 75% of Angelina Jolie’s new action/thriller Salt, you’re in a constant of “huh?” “wait what?” and “whoa!” The action is fast, it’s furious and it keeps the audience on its collective toes. Your constantly trying to figure out the plot as another fight sequences breaks out or another plot twist is thrown your way — and sometimes both happen at the same time. This part of the movie is an enjoyable high-octane cat and mouse thriller.
Then in the last 25% of the movie, when we’re supposed to get the “big reveal” when our questions should be answered in a shocking, thought provoking and knee-slapping “I knew it!” way, everything is wrapped up in the blink of a bland eye. The answers are given a “here you go” ho-hum treatment. A violent and bloody climax is told so matter of factly, that it has no audience resonance. It’s like going on an intense, loop-filled 100mph rollercoaster that ends with a 20mph straight-away for ten minutes. Total letdown.
It’s hard to pin the blame on why Salt finishes so weak. Was it poor writing? It could be that the writers were so involved in creating a convoluted cat-and-mouse thriller that they kind of ran out of steam by the end. Call it literary exhaustion. Or was it the direction? Was the matter-of-factness of the finale the cause of poor execution by director Phillip Noyce? No matter who’s to blame, the ball, which was filled to the breaking point with potential, was definitely dropped.
One area, that cannot be blamed for the letdown in Salt is the acting.
Angelina Jolie proves without a shadow of a doubt, that she is a bona fide action heroine. Thankfully. her sexuality is never brought into play — you never get the attitude of “oh look at a woman kick some ass” it’s more like “look at this character kick some ass.” To me this is quite a refreshing idea. I hate it when action movies have to point out “oh look it’s a woman doing this,” like it’s something special. And that’s about as much feminist theory you’ll ever get out of me. And thankfully it seems we’ve moved past the “Angelina Jolie is cast in action movies because she’s super hot” philosophy that has reigned supreme for the past decade.
The supporting cast in Salt consists of the my favorite one-two combination of awesome character actors Liev Schrieber and Chitewel Ejiofor. Their presence together in this film adds emotion, depth and intensity. Lesser actors would’ve dragged this film down, but both actors are suitable action film veterans as well as having the rep for delivering solid performances in terrible movies (Schrieber in Wolverine, Ejiofor in 2012).
In short, Salt is one of those popcorn action flicks that are perfect for a rainy summer day or a night when you can’t figure out what to do. It’ll entertain, but ultimately not the most memorable of films.