Tuesday 24 August 2010

Review: Salt

Year: 201o
Director: Phillip Noyce
Screenplay: Kurt Wimmer
Starring: Angelina Jolie, Liev Schreiber and Chiwetel Ejiofor

Synopsis is here

Salt is a relatively enjoyable flick. It's less disjointed than the A-Teams, Expendables and Knight and Day's of the world. This seems to be because Phillip Noyce (director of the brilliant Rabbit Proof Fence) really wants to make a coherent movie. For the most part, he does fine. There's a sprinkling of Bourne here, a dab of Total Recall there, some spy gunk from the shoe of Pierce Brosnan's Bonds. It mixes well enough for an hour and then bang the third act smacks you in the face like a jilted ex.

The film holds no big surprises. All the cliches are there. I was well aware of the inevitable turns that a feature like this would bring, and for the most part I was fine with it. As an action film, it throws some solid punches and I was more than happy to roll with them. I really enjoyed the fact that the fight sequences took notice that Salt is more agile than strong. Considering that Tom Cruise was meant to take the role of Salt before he passed, it's the kind of thing that can easily slip a filmmakers mind.

Noyce's direction of the action and pacing of the story is more than competent, but suddenly like a flicking of a light switch, Kurt Wimmer's screenplay takes a detour into the town ludicrous and the mayor is Chris Bridges.

Salt was doing fine, even with it's hilarious Kennedy conspiracy theory near the beginning, but suddenly the film falls down on itself, and Noyce's direction could not cover up the crazy of the films climax. The film's "fridge logic" is all a little too clear and instead of asking certain questions during a midnight snack, your asking them IN THE MOVIE. This is never a good sign, and it played havoc with my general enjoyment of the movie.

I wondered if this is why so many people say you need to "switch your brain off" when watching a movie such as Salt. Maybe they know they'll get plagued with such questions and suddenly the illusion is ruined. Maybe the only questions they like asking is whether Angelina is better as a brunette or a blonde. Maybe merely sitting and glaring at average performances Liev Schreiber and Chiwetel Ejiofor (character actors now somnambulists it seems) helps stop those questions from setting in for others. Not me.

No for me Salt falls a little short at the last hurdle. The action sequences with an actual sense of place, the strong presence of Jolie as a female action star, the subtly (for a blockbuster) placed theme of identity melts away for a punchline that is a tad too overdone to feel fully satisfying. Salt isn't a junk food film of the highest order but like the title, too much of it (i.e a sequel) will not be good for you.