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.

Review: 2012

2012 poster
2012 poster

Make Way For The Mother of All Disaster Films!

2012 (PG-13)

Director: Roland Emmerich

Cast: John Cusack, Amanda Peet, Woody Harrelson, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Thandie Newton, Oliver Platt and Danny Glover

Genre: Disaster Film

Rating: **

One of the best scenes in the film is when a phenomenal earthquake rips off the City of Angels. In comparison to J.J. Abrahams’ Cloverfield where our fair lady, Liberty’s head is decapitated by the monster, the Statue of Jesus in Rio de Janeiro is destroyed by a known monster called Nature. Emmerich has waited long to bring this so-called epic disaster film. Well, I pronounce 2012 as the mother of all disaster films. I would be darned if he makes something more terrible.

2012 depicts the Rapture a.k.a Judgment Day a.k.a End of the World a.k.a Global Warming killed the world buddy. Emmerich has signed more than twenty three companies to add visual effects to the film. Hence, you find that 90% of the movie is shot in front of a green matte. Bear with me, the tsunami in 2012 is deadly that it can overturn an aircraft carrier onto the White House which kills the country’s black president. John Cusack’s stunts with the limousine are probably the best car stunts. 2012 has a $200 million budget which mainly comprises of the enormous visual effects used.

Woody Harrelson plays a psyched RJ who keeps informing the public of strange things happening in Yellowstone National Park. He manages to ward off Cusack by guiding him to China for safety. But, the problem is – how will Cusack make it to China from LA with his two kids, ex-wife and her husband. Strap on for an entertaining ride which takes you from halfway and keeps you geared to witty humor and swashbuckling visuals.

The twenty three companies which have worked on the film’s visual effects deserve applause. For without them, there’s no 2012. 2012 is catastrophe created through CGI. While Cusack, Amanda Peet and a handful of Russians struggle inside a battered airbus, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Thandie Newton and a rude Oliver Platt struggle for supremacy inside Air Force One.

There is enough disaster in the script to keep you plugged to the screen. The scenes involving the private jet and limousine offer a death leap. But, in the end, it’s Roland Emmerich who plays the death game as he kills each and every supporting character in the film allowing only the protagonist and his family to stay alive.

Watch 2012 and learn on how to survive Judgment Day. Firstly, you must be a failed novelist and must have two kids from your first marriage and a part-time job as a limousine driver. Secondly, your failed book must inspire this top end man in Science and Technology wing of the White House. Thirdly, there must be a Black President on board. If you do so, you can survive the apocalypse. If you don’t fulfill the three qualifications – ‘til death do we part?

2012 can be defined as a giant bag full of splendid visuals, tiny character timelines, insensible emotions and enough hero worship.