Now Playing Review – Salt

If you have been watching the news lately then you have probably heard something about all of the Russian spies who are being discovered living in the US like normal people.  It might sound cool, but in all honesty it was a little underwhelming as far as I am concerned.  No reports of shootouts, no high speed chases through roads of high traffic, no jumping into bodies of water to escape pursuit… Why is this not going down like Hollywood made me believe it would!?  For those of you would like the Hollywood version of this story, then Salt just might be what you are looking for.

As a CIA agent Evelyn Salt has been through a lot of situations that most people will never have to deal with.  But today, the one thing she probably never saw coming walked right through the front door of her workplace.  While interrogating a Russian agent he tells a story of a plot against certain high ranking government officials that seems a little far fetched, but before she can cut him loose he gives the name of the agent who is supposed to carry out these assassinations.  And it just so happens to be her name.  Instead of sticking around to talk her way out of it, she makes a break for it, giving everyone reason to question who she really is.

Angelina Jolie is no stranger to action flicks, having even played a spy with questionable motives here and there.  As Salt she proves once again that she is just as capable of carrying a movie of this nature as any of the male leads.  Not only is she a great dramatic actress who is capable of keeping her characters motives from leaking through in her performance, but she can do more than throw a decent punch too when the action sequences call for it.  In all honesty her character does a few things that I had to scoff at, but I let them slide because Jolie can sell pretty much anything and come out of it looking pretty BA, including using a taser gun in a way I have never imagined.

Because this film relies heavily on the high intensity action sequences the pacing starts to feel slightly off when they take a breather, even if only slightly.  For one thing, after Salt escapes the CIA building after being accused of being a Russian spy the pacing takes a while to catch back up to its running speed.  She jogs home, she jogs away from home, and then she jogs some more.  If I didn’t know better I might think I was watching Run, Lola, Run, but this doesn’t have the soundtrack and editing that that film integrated in order to keep the pace exciting.  Not only that, but considering she is being chased by men willing to shoot her to keep her from escaping I just wasn’t feeling the adrenaline.  I understand that people running with backpacks bouncing around from side to side look pretty ridiculous, but I have seen students late for class booking it much faster than it felt like she was running in these scenes.  When you get down to it, if you have to follow the car chase scene from The Bourne Identity, you have to bring much more to the table than jogging shoes.

The action may be a strong aspect of this film but even it can’t completely save it from its weaknesses.  At first it is really hard to read her character and decide what her motives really are, making it intriguing enough, but the mystery to her character and the steps she is going to take to get to her end goal dissipates.  The plot becomes overly predictable, and though I didn’t see a major twist coming, it was the only thing in the entire film to really come at a surprise.  Plus, the ending is really disappointing because it plays as if it is expecting to get a sequel to wrap up some unfinished business.  But this is not the first entry into The Lord of the Rings trilogy, with far more story still ahead and no question we would get to see their attempt to get to Mordor.  In my opinion, this film just doesn’t produce a strong enough base for those bragging rights.

When it comes down to it the story is far too weak and predictable to get excited about, with only Jolie’s performance and some action sequences to keep it afloat.  Though I am not opposed to the sequels this film seems to expect, they better bring a lot more to it the second time around.

Final Grade: B-

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