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: X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Promotional Poster
Promotional Poster

Plenty of Action & Animation

X-Men Origins: Wolverine (PG-13)

Director: Gavin Hood

Cast: Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Ryan Reynolds and Lynn Collins.

Rating: **

The latest offering from the world of mutants is X-Men Origins: Wolverine which focuses on the main character of the X-Men series – Wolverine. What we saw in the first X-Men film was Wolverine having a bar brawl and suddenly exposing his metal claws. Well, how did he gain the claws? This film helps you learn more on your favourite X-Man. So, what exactly does this film offer you? There’s a heavy dosage of action and high cutting animation. A good summer release, this film stands high for an action packed entertainer.

Australian performer Hugh Jackman became instantly famous once he chose to portray Wolverine in the first X-Men film. He has trained a lot and gained more muscles to depict Wolverine stronger and muscular. The best example is Wolverine gaining metal claws and rising from the water tub. Another example could be Wolverine letting the students out of their cages after they’d been trapped.

A heavy dose of animation accompanies the action. The titles are amazing. Editing is at its best. Cinematography is more exquisite. The sets look quite real for mean dwelling mutants. There’s more than what you could have expected from a South African director, Gavin Hood.

The story starts in 1855 with James Howlett murdering his father’s murderer using his bone claws and then learning that the person he murdered was his real father. Hence, he becomes James Logan and runs away with his real father’s son (a.k.a. his real brother) Victor Creed. They’re mutants – One with retractable claws and the other is a Sabre-tooth tiger reformation.

The brothers fight through three wars – Civil War, WW1 and WW2. In the Vietnam War, Logan kills one of the superiors to help Victor. Hence, they’re caught and executed. But, the mutants regenerate and find themselves meeting Major Stryker who offers them to join his team of mutants. Their first mission is to find the source of a meteor substance – Adamantium. Logan however acts manly and disagrees to the human massacre the mutants were about to create and quits.

Few years later, he is living in the Canadian Rockies with Kayla Silverfox. However, Victor wants answers and kills her. Logan is hence put in the path of revenge. Plenty of action ensues with Logan undergoing an experiment to gain Adamantium in his blood and turn invincible. However, a few twists in the tale prove a little unearthly. The film lack speed at times where emotions take center stage.

Hugh Jackman as Wolverine is exhilarating. This easily makes Wolverine as one of the best superheroes of this century. Jackman has undergone mighty practice and training to fit in.

Liev Schreiber as Victor Creed is certainly villainous. The cunning sabre-toothed mutant and Logan’s real brother, his performance lacks more agility.

Lynn Collins portrays Kayla Silverfox. Sadly, she makes the tougher Silverfox appear more sympathetic at times.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine brings back Wolverine to screen. However it remains as a Jackman starrer and nothing else. Rest assured there’s plenty of swashbuckling action and sizzling animation to scorch the screens this summer.