Derek Winnert

Salt *** (2010, Angelina Jolie, Liev Schreiber, Chiwetel Ejiofor) – Classic Movie Review 980


Angelina Jolie does her action heroine thing again as CIA agent Evelyn Salt, who goes on the run after a defecting Soviet spy accuses her of being a Russian agent about to kill the Russian President on his visit to New York for the US Vice President’s funeral.


Those other good actors Liev Schreiber (as her creepy boss Ted Winter) and Chiwetel Ejiofor (as Peabody) stand on the sidelines looking pretty bored, with, respectively, too much and too little to do. Everything’s about Jolie. And that’s fine, and she’s fine, and incredibly fit. But, my, hasn’t she got scarily thin, veiny and over-made-over?


Those cruel big close-ups give you plenty of time to ponder what’s happened to Jolie’s face at the age of 35. She’s beginning to look like an Angelina Jolie impersonator. Nevertheless, she really does look incredibly striking, a screen goddess. And the woman can run and really looks as though she could do all this daft kick-ass action stuff, even if we know there’s a lot of CGI, though reportedly she did most of her own stunts.


The plot may have made sense in some version of  Kurt Wimmer’s script, or some cut of the movie, but it sure doesn’t now. Director Phillip Noyce’s 2010 film is so pared down and so over-edited that there’s no flab, no pauses for breath, no standing still and virtually no chit-chat. That’s fine too.


But, in their desperation to thrill, and it does, they’ve chucked the story baby out with the action bathwater. Somewhere, there might have been a good conspiracy plot yarn here, and a useful thriller story concerning a possible nuclear strike. Although, even so, the Russian bashing does seem weirdly reminiscent of the Cold War era, giving the movie a dated feel.


When we hear that it was a Russian stand-in for Lee Harvey Oswald who killed Kennedy, that seems clever and dumb all at the same time. A bit like the film, in fact. It’s so fast, it’s never boring. But it’s so daft, you feel a bit patronised. And there’s no room for Jolie to act, which, quite honestly, is the thing she does best.


The movie was originally written with Salt as a male (Edwin A Salt) and Tom Cruise was approached. It’s Cruise’s loss. The character is named after the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks in 1969 and 1979 between USA and Soviet Union during the Cold War. Salt’s full Russian name is Natasha Alexandrovna Chenkova.

It was a hit. It grossed $120 million in the US. Everybody loves Jolie in action mode. A sequel, Salt 2, has been announced.

© Derek Winnert 2014 Classic Movie Review 980

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