Review: Salt

Angelina Jolie in and as Salt

Name Place Animal Thing

Salt (PG-13)

Director: Philip Noyce

Starring: Angelina Jolie, Liev Schreiber, Chiwetel Ejiofor

Genre: Action Thriller

Rating: ZERO

For a second, I thought Salt might be an interesting thriller. The pre-title sequence informs us about the setup, the titular character has been led into. As a captive, she is tortured brutally in prison by the North Korean forces. Written by Kurt Wimmer and an off-the-record Brian Helgeland, Salt tries to be a thriller on the lines of The Fugitive. But, Salt fails and you get to see nothing new in it. Perhaps, Salt is a mention that recycled storylines are still in business in Hollywood. But, many of those recycled ones are coupled up with a strong dose of action or comedy. Drugged with adrenaline, Salt overdoses and creates a larger-than-life image for Angelina Jolie who performs extreme stunts like rolling over a flyover to escape on a truck below or a parkour stunt inside the elevator shaft. Salt (the character) looks like a pretty average blonde in the first few scenes. But, after a few twists, Salt (the character) turns brunette and Salt (the film) becomes a Bourne-like thriller wannabe.

Angelina Jolie has been famous as a drama star (Changeling, Girl Interrupted). She has tried to be that action star, who saves the world in Tomb Raider or even the assassin in Wanted. Although she seemed good enough, she plainly sucks in Salt. 3 reasons why: #1: The actress looks exhausted. #2: Her dialogues are sometimes cheesy. #3: The story is a complete letdown.

The film also revives the fact that Cold War isn’t yet over. In fact, the lenses shift to a Russian church back in the late seventies where a flashback reveals us enough to tell whether Salt can be trusted or not. But, when she repeatedly begs her CIA colleague Ted Winter (Liev Schreiber) to trust her we think she might have been framed.

“Utilitarian is the new sexy,” says Winter, yet the film perverts Jolie’s sex symbol status, making her a strangely androgynous enigma – costumed in unconvincing blonde and brunette hairstyles, dieted to anorexic thinness, she plays a fast-thinking, 85-pound killing machine.  But, this doesn’t prevent Jolie to boost on her sex symbol status.

In one scene, Salt sheds her shoes and then her underwear in order to blind a security camera and spike the blood pressure of the male audience. Salt enacts vengeance, preemptive mayhem and self-defensive killing using spider venom, plastic explosives and stolen clothes. She also dispatches Americans like a melancholy drag queen. Her first CIA battle even includes a bomb making sequence using janitorial products and a handful of editing cuts.

Not even Neveldine-Taylor (Crank) would devise a scene like the one where Salt’s killing spree is accompanied by a disco theme song where her name is chanted between gunshots. James Newton Howard’s BGM is at its all-time low.

It’s a fashion that the smart and good-hearted guy who helps the protagonist is at the same time, the twisting antagonist. We’ve seen it in The Fugitive, The A-Team and even in Die Another Day. When you witness such methodical scripting in Salt, you’ll wonder if the filmmaker could pay back your ticket money for easily predicting the baddie. I’m not gonna spill any more beans. But, this should be enough to keep you away from Salt. The movie sucked and Jolie wearing a bikini might have captivated you. But, she doesn’t.

Name: Evelyn Salt. Place: Washington DC and New York City. Animal: Monkey-like Jolie jumping around bridges and cheetah-like Jolie sprinting away from the cops. Thing: The thing here could be the DVD of Bourne Identity which may have led the filmmakers to experiment on Salt.

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