By Todd Gilchrist
hollywoodnews.com: Phillip Noyce’s Salt is the kind of movie that adults point to as good entertainment when they’re more resentful of the choices available for younger audiences than they are discriminating enough to choose something genuinely intelligent for themselves. A thriller obviously designed to capitalize on the success of political-potboiler predecessors like the Bourne series, it wears the pedigree of “mature” filmmaking in much the same way a recent college graduate reinforces his unassailable worldliness with a framed diploma from a private university.
And yet it’s the “grown-up” equivalent of Transformers or some other kind of idiotic escapism, a knuckle-headed action movie that has less creativity or ambition than it does money and star power, and which will ultimately earn a pass from audiences and probably critics as well for no other discernible reason than it’s only mediocre, while most of its competition is just plain godawful.
Angelina Jolie plays Evelyn Salt, a CIA operative who gets hunted by her former colleagues when an interrogation subject announces that she is an undercover Russian spy. Fleeing Washington, D.C. to track down her husband Mike (August Diehl), whom she believes was kidnapped by the same people framing her, Salt soon finds herself unwittingly going through with a plot to kill a visiting Russian dignitary, if only to figure out where her husband is, who set her up, and how she can clear her name, and all before being locked in prison or getting killed by her pursuers.
The biggest problem with Salt is that you just don’t care what happens – at any point, and with one exception, to any character. (And the one, sadly, isn’t Salt herself.) The film’s self-congratulatory attitude towards its gender indifference – a continuation from the announcement that the title character was originally meant to be played a man – subjects Jolie to torture, beatings, gunfights, and showdowns of epic proportions, and yet none of them seem to be born of anything other than empty-headed screenwriting clichés.
We are informed repeatedly that Salt is a trained killer with talents and abilities beyond our comprehension, for example, but it seems like she could have just as easily learned about kicking ass from watching MMA or downloading a steady diet of politically-themed action films. That you never worry for her health or safety is less a reflection of the filmmakers’ liberal attitudes towards female empowerment than the inevitability that the main […]