Sunday, July 25, 2010


SALT (Phillip Noyce, 2010)

CIA agent Evelyn Salt (Angelina Jolie) learns the hard way that it’s almost always a bad idea to hang around the office to handle a work matter that pops up at the last minute. Salt has her world shaken when Russian defector Vassily Orlov (Daniel Olbrychski) spills the details about a forthcoming day of terror and her complicity in the plot known as Day X.

Orlov spins a wild tale of sleeper agents trained as children during the Cold War, yet the agency’s diagnostic tools indicate that he is telling the truth. The interrogation ends with a bombshell. The Russian president will be assassinated by a sleeper agent named Evelyn Salt.

While her co-worker Ted Winter (Liev Schreiber) considers the accusation to be ridiculous, CIA official Peabody (Chiwetel Ejiofor) insists that Salt be placed in temporary custody. Fearing that her husband may be in danger, Salt executes an escape that serves to make her look more suspicious.

The premise of SALT gets a credibility boost with the recent news of implanted Russian spies being arrested in the United States. Otherwise, thinking too much about the ins and outs of SALT will only highlight how ridiculous the film is.

As a nuts and bolts action movie, this is an entertaining piece of adrenaline-pumping entertainment. While the action can be chopped up a little more than is preferable, director Phillip Noyce weaves together chase scenes and gun battles that allow for greater comprehension of screen geography and practical stunt work. What’s happening in SALT may be implausible, but it’s shot and edited in a way that lets the action be visible rather than unfolding in an impressionist blur of smash cuts and whip pans.

SALT doesn’t spring many surprises, but settling for smartly staged setpieces over twists and turns in an action movie sounds like a square deal.

Grade: B-

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