“Salt” is fun free action at its most detached
This may come as a surprise to regular readers of this column, but Angelina Jolie is not the worst part of her latest film, “Salt,” which aspires to and fails to be a female “Bourne”-type of action thriller. Also surprising is the involvement of director Phillip Noyce, who has helmed some terrific films over his diverse career (“Dead Calm,” “Patriot Games,” “Rabbit Proof Fence”).
Even for a film of this genre, the level of implausibility is otherworldly. But it’s possible even that fact can be overlooked or laughed at if the audience maintains a rooting interest in the protagonist.
So even if CIA operative Evelyn Salt (Jolie) may or may not be the double agent she is accused of being, if there were any heart to match the high octane of the action sequences the rollercoaster would be worth the ride. Alas, though the film tries to keep the true identity of its heroine at bay, little information is given as to what makes Salt who she is and what info is provided makes little sense.
Apparently Salt was highly trained as a child by Russian abductors, (yes, there is a Cold War angle to the story making it feel as fresh as a Yugo commercial), and this has given her the powers of a superhero-witness her ability to vault from a bridge to a fast moving 18-wheeler many feet below without a hitch. She has one apparent ally, a co-agent played by Liev Schreiber, but even he begins to question her as the bodies of the good guys Salt beats up or terminates start to pile up-a fact that makes the ending highly questionable.
Jolie plays a killing machine as well as can be expected, but the chill factor here makes for a joyless journey zapped of any joie de vivre. From Bond to Bourne and in between, the greatest action films never take themselves too seriously and are grounded enough in reality that the incredible stunts provoke “how did they do that?” response. (See “Inception” and “Knight and Day”).
Rated PG-13 for scenes of violence and action.