Wednesday, July 28, 2010

'Salt' a Thrill If Taken With a Grain Of

Movie Review

Directed by Philip Noyce
Starring Angelina Jolie, Liev Schreiber and Chiwetel Ejiofor

Last week, I saw, liked and lauded Inception, not just for being quite good but for being entirely original at a time when most big budget summer movies are sequels or based on pre-existing properties.

While 'Salt,' isn't nearly as novel nor rewarding, it is--much to my surprise when Roger Ebert raved about it--a really well-done and suspenseful summer action movie that is similarly fresh (i.e. not a known-franchise film, although it clearly aspires to become one).

Angelina Jolie looks great, supposedly performed many of her own stunts (and got hurt doing so) and excels at keeping the audience guessing, to a degree, about the allegiances and motivations of Evelyn Salt, a spy with exceptional physical abilities, not so unlike Jason Bourne. The script, written by Kurt Wimmer & Brian Helgeland and to my knowledge not based on a comic book hero or character from a string of hit novels, was originally penned with Tom Cruise in mind to star as Edwin Salt. But according to Wikipedia, Cruise passed on the project because Edwin Salt wasn't a whole lot different than Ethan Hunt, his character from the Mission: Impossible franchise.

Although Salt opened with a $36 million weekend box office take, trailing Inception in its second week, I think Cruise's decision and Jolie's inclusion turned out to be a good thing for the movie. Jolie plays the role with a sleek power--though if this photo to be believed, perhaps she may be a bit too thin in real life--not so unlike the action heroes she portrayed in Wanted and Tomb Raider, but with a bit of vulnerability and a at-times subdued approach that helps sell the suspense about Salt's loyalties.

Certainly, as in most high-action films, there are chase sequences that extend plausibility and even the plot line's realism is more than a tad tenuous, but never to the point of being laughable or too detrimental to one's enjoyment. Unlike Inception, Salt isn't a film with legitimate Academy Award aspirations, and history won't mention it in the same breath. But for a tasty popcorn flick, Salt has just the right flavor.

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