October 22, 2016
        Hollywood Contenders: New Oscar Predictions for October                Nicole Kidman, Hugh Grant, Naomie Harris, Lily Collins get Honors at 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards                "Manchester by the Sea" leads the Gotham Award nominations                Tom Ford, Marc Platt and Kenneth Lonergan to be Honored at 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards                Tom Cruise is in his action hero comfort zone with "Jack Reacher: Never Go Back"                "Moonlight" could be A24's big Oscar horse this year                Ewan McGregor steps behind the camera with "American Pastoral"                Hollywood Contenders: A second crack at Golden Globe predictions for 2016                "The Accountant" seeks to help give Ben Affleck another blockbuster                85 countries will be competing for Best Foreign Language Feature nominations at the Oscars                Tom Hanks to receive Hollywood Actor Award for "Sully" @ Hollywood Film Awards                "Certain Women" showcases Laura Dern, Kristen Stewart, and Michelle Williams                Ben Affleck is perhaps Hollywood's biggest and most diverse superstar                "The Birth of a Nation" looks to survive controversy and contend for awards                "The Girl on the Train" hopes to transport Emily Blunt to the Oscar race        

In the ‘what were they thinking?’ department: the Salt soundtrack

By Scott Mendelson

hollywoodnews.com: Salt is pretty much what it is advertised as, a mid-to-late 90s throwback, a star-driven action thriller that uses its alleged real-world narratives (including an accidentally topical plot involving Russian spies) to obfuscate its patented absurdity. The picture shines in its first half, but plummets in its second when its plot goes from almost plausible to completely nuts.

Simply put, the film would have been far more effective if the stakes were not so ‘the whole world is at stake’ high. When the plot centers around an attempted assassination of a foreign dignitary and the possible revelation of Russian spies in the CIA, there is a certain real-world plausibility that also helps create suspense. Point being, said foreign national might actually get killed during the course of the picture, but we’re pretty sure that (being vague to avoid spoilers) the entire world is not going to be thrown into irreversible chaos, especially at the apparent hands of some pretty big movie stars.

This isn’t Dr. Strangelove or Fail Safe, it’s a $75 million popcorn genre thriller starring one of the last remaining bankable action stars on the planet. But, warts and all, the film remains a pleasantly diverting B-movie. I imagine it will play smashingly on TNT for a Sunday afternoon matinee. But that doesn’t excuse one of the most boneheaded soundtracks I’ve heard in a long time.

At least twice in the film that I heard, once in an action sequence at the climax of the second act and once at the very end of the movie, the score literally turns into the Inspector Gadget theme song. First off, we have a scene of Jolie’s Salt skulking around and ruthlessly dispatching her enemies in slow-motion, but bloodless carnage. While Jolie shoots and blows up her foes, the soundtrack literally has a choir of some kind start chanting the characters name. Yes, that’s right, the soundtrack literally has someone chanting “Salt! Salt! Salt! Salt!” as the alleged double/triple/quadruple agent goes about her killing business. I’m not sure who thought this was a good idea, but I defy anyone viewing this picture not to burst into giggles as they realize that this dead-serious political action picture has actually written a theme song more at home in the Adam West Batman TV show. It happens again right at the end of the picture, and it’s every bit as head-slappingly funny there. I’d love to know what composer James Newton Howard was thinking, because even the cheesiest 1980s action picture never had the gall to throw in a theme song right-smack in the middle of the movie. It’s an awesomely dumb moment and an otherwise inoffensively dumb picture.

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About Scott Mendelson

Mendelson's Memos: The basics - 30 years old, married with one child, currently residing in Woodland Hills, CA. I am simply a longtime film critic and pundit of sorts, especially in the realm of box office. The main content will be film reviews, trailer reviews, essays, and box office analysis and comparison. I also syndicate myself at The Huffington Post and Open Salon. I will update as often as my schedule allows. Yes, I'm on Facebook/Twitter/LinkIn, so feel free to find me there. All comments are appreciated, just be civil and try to keep a level discourse, as I will make every effort to do the same. Read more at Mendelson's Memos:

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