Posted on: 3rd September 2010  |

Director: Phillip Noyce
Starring: Angelina Jolie, Liev Schreiber, Chiwetel Ejiofor
UK Release date: 18 August 2010
Certificate: 12A (100 mins)

Apparently Tom Cruise passed on the chance to star in Salt, preferring instead to knock audiences and Cameron Diaz unconscious in Knight and Day. This left the gap open for UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador and professional adopter (Maddox, Pax and Zahara grow up alongside Shiloh, Knox and Vivienne), Angelina Jolie to take on the eponymous role of the CIA double/triple agent. It’s fair to say that she made the better choice – Salt is a decent thriller that is set up for, at the least, a couple of sequels.

Salt owes a lot to the gap left by the Bourne films, not only in its plotting but in the standards set for death-defying and death-dealing. Here Jolie can be found playing leap-frog on motorway lorries, collapsing floors, making bombs out of cleaning equipment – the lot. It’s pacey fun, with enough impossible by-a-whisker moments to suggest that it isn’t taking itself too seriously. The enemies here are the Russians – an odd anachronism I thought at first, before realising that the reality of Russian spies living hidden alongside ‘normal Americans’ will be fresh in the minds of American audiences. Even so, there isn’t an immediate connection between those real-life spies looking for boring industrial and trade secrets and Salt’s troop of nuclearised enemies. It’s almost as if 24 never happened.

It’s also a relief that we don’t have to watch Tom Cruise or his ilk battling the bad. A thirty-five year old woman in the film industry usually starts eyeing the gulf between the last fifteen years of romantic leads and the slower ‘mature woman’ roles that await on the other side of her forties – Hollywood doesn’t do the middle ages well for its actresses. In her own small way Jolie is making a niche for herself as a female world-saver – roles in films such as Wanted and Mr. & Mrs. Smith, popcorn though they may be, wouldn’t have been the norm for an actress of her age and biography twenty years ago.

The fact that in Salt she is given a husband (who is realistic enough within the film’s parameters) rather than a token love interest highlights how in comparison, most male heroes are still clawing their way up out of the James Bond protean mush that demands they have breathless (or in Knight and Day’s case, drugged and knocked out) females in tow. It also draws a rather depressing circle around the way that Jolie is treated in the press – I remember reading a candid interview with a journalist who admitted that on quiet days he just recycled one of the three Angelina/Brad/Jennifer stories – either he’s texted Jen, she’s texted Angelina, or the marriage is about to end – because he knew that it had proliferated to such an extent that Jolie was never going to pursue individual cases of lies. If you don’t know what I am talking about, I envy you.

That Salt requires a very large suspension of disbelief – Jolie at one point passes herself off as a man, and you can’t help but thinking, hold on, I’m pretty sure that I might have a few suspicions – doesn’t really affect it as entertainment. Although the twists and unveilings are there to be spotted, the film moves fast enough that if you want to be surprised, you can let yourself be without too much of a mental shut-down.

Nathan Koblintz

 Visit this film's official web site


Official SALT Trailer - In Theaters 7/23/2010


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