Sunday, August 1, 2010

Reel To Reel: Salt

You be cool, sugar.

Going Rate: Worth full admission.
Starring: Angelina Jolie, Liev Schreiber, Chiwetel Ejiofor
Rated: PG-13
Red Flags: Fisticuffs, gunplay, mild language

The fun of Salt is not wondering whether or not Angelina Jolie's title character is going to get out of a situation, but how. So we have an action movie which requires only enough plot to transport us from chase to chase. The whole film essentially is one big ol' chase with a few twists and setups that aren't supposed to be evaluated critically, because that's not the point. The point is to watch Jolie kick everybody else's behind. And boy, does she do it well.

Jolie is Evelyn Salt, a CIA agent who may or may not be a Russian mole. One day, close to quitting time, a "walk-in" Russian agent comes into one of the Company's front buildings with information about a Soviet sleeper cell trained in the mother country but living as Americans. It's a Boys From Brazil outfit that mashes up nicely in our heads with the recent arrests of Russian sleepers living in the U.S. The walk-in discloses they're out to kill the Russian President, which doesn't make much sense to the CIA interrogators. For the rest of us, it makes perfect sense if you figure there's more than a few comrades nostalgic for the glory days of the Supreme Soviet. Then, a-ha, he indicates Salt may be one of those sleepers. Now we're off and running.

Salt is a resourceful agent, the perfect equation of cool, body and brains, beautifully tough in all the right ways with a wicked streak. According to CNN and US Magazine, Jolie did most of her own stunts. I gather those include a breath-holding chase where she leaps from vehicle to vehicle and a biggie where she goes down an elevator shaft in much the same fashion. How is she still alive after making this picture? Don't bother trying to shoot her, much less tase her, after you see what she does to a cop with a stun gun.

We have a mostly disposable subplot involving Salt's German husband and a capture in North Korea, which don't do much except give us a chance to catch our breaths and provide a set-up for another scene. Love is not what motivates Salt, it's something else, but mostly it's the need to make another escape.

Salt is eating up box office cash. A sequel is already in the works, and Columbia Pictures would be insane to pass on it. Even the title Salt II has that retro-Cold War vibe, just like the current flick.

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