Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Film Review - Salt

Salt (2010)

Director: Phillip Noyce
Starring: Angelina Jolie, Liev Schreiber

Evelyn Salt (Angelina Jolie) is a CIA agent whose identity and true motivations are called into question when a Russian spy walks into the CIA's office and, under interrogation, declares that she is a rogue Russian spy whose mission is to kill the Russian president. Though her boss, Ted Winter (Liev Schreiber) initially believes in her innocence, the rest of the office must follow protocol and investigate her immediately. Knowing that, according to past situations, her husband is in danger, she manages to escape the building and then the movie kicks into high gear, with car chases, truck jumping, double identities and spy games reminiscent of the Cold War.

I'm afraid I'm making the film sound a lot more interesting and well-executed than it actually was. Salt is not only a poorly made action film, it is a dull poorly made action film, which is completely unforgivable. With "twists" that could be seen by Ray Charles (post mortem) and a plot that was so obvious I was about to lean over after the first five minutes and explain to my companion what we were going to see for the next hour and a half, Salt was just plain bad. I'm pretty sure that the several bursts of involuntary laughter coming from our section of the theater were not intended, which actually makes me laugh even harder in retrospect because there is nothing worse than an non-substantive action film that takes itself too seriously.

Granted, when we walked into the movie, we weren't expecting much, but at least there would be eye candy, right? Long-time crush Schreiber for me, Jolie for my friend and well, any male or female of any sexual persuasion, really. Yeah, not so much. Jolie, looking like a (more) demented Morticia Adaams and jumping around with a too-skinny, sinewy body (sorry, but strained neck cords aren't attractive on anyone) was just terrifying, and Liev's transparent, mumbling performance was so far beneath everything he's capable of. Somehow he was able to portray more depth as Sabretooth. I was also expecting a little more out of Phillip Noyce, the film's director, since he had directed past political action films like Clear and Present Danger and Patriot Games which, while not great movies, were at least watchable. Then again, he also directed Sliver.

Don't get me wrong: I'm not a film snob who walked into Salt with a proscribed notion that I was about to see a well executed, insightful and brilliantly written film. I was expecting to see a crappy action movie, along the lines of Wanted or maybe one of the X-Men movies (you can tell I don't see a lot of action films, but I enjoyed all of those). Instead I was treated to an hour and a half of boredom and a mind-numbingly bad story that offered no fun action at all. It's such a bummer that Salt failed to meet even my lowest expectations.

1.5 out of 5 Stars

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