Directed by: Phillip Noyce
Premise: CIA agent Evelyn Salt (Angelina Jolie) goes on the run when she is accused of plotting to assassinate a diplomat. While security agents give chase, the truth of her identity becomes increasingly complicated.
What Works: The action scenes of Salt are a lot of fun, especially a freeway chase early on in the film. Director Philip Noyce, who has done similar pictures such as Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger, has a grasp of how to stage and photograph the action and the stunts have a realism about them that maintains their believability.
What Doesn’t: The trouble with Salt is that it makes less and less sense as it goes on. For example, the conflict is kicked off by a Russian defector who accuses Salt of being a double agent but then he violently escapes custody. If the informer is earnestly trying to warn the CIA of Salt’s intentions, then breaking out makes no sense, but if he has some nefarious agenda, walking into an interrogation room in a CIA stronghold and tipping the agency off on the plan doesn’t seem like the smartest strategy either. And if Salt is supposed to be in on the assassination plot, which has been long in the planning, it is odd that she is so unprepared for the announcement but if she is innocent it makes no sense for her to run in the first place. These kinds of glaring holes in the narrative nag at the viewer and distract them from the drama and the action on the screen. But what makes the least sense of the film is its politics. Salt is a Cold War movie that is twenty-five years too late. Why this assassination is taking place, who is doing it, and for what gain are left unexplained and that lack of explanation robs the mystery of a broader sense of urgency that the story ought to possess.
Bottom Line: Salt has some fun action sequences and if it were released twenty years ago it might have been considered a great action film. But with its lapses in logic and political anachronisms, Salt plays like a big budget version of a direct-to-video film starring Jean Claude Van Damme or Steven Seagal.
Episode: #299 (August 1, 2010)