“Salt” is trash, but it is really good trash. It is the visual equivalent of a “beach read.” In other words if “Salt” was a book it would be a paperback thriller that one could read while relaxing on summer vacation. The story is not taxing, or even close to believable, but had enough action, surprises and reversals (not to be revealed here) to have kept me interested.

“Salt” is a wonderfully mega-paranoid, over the top, post cold war thriller in which Angelina Jolie plays Evelyn Salt, a CIA agent who, through the course of the story, proves to be a virtual one-woman army fighting for national interests, although for which nation we are not always sure. At first we do not know exactly what motivates Salt or what her past actually is, something that kept me off balance enough to want to stay on this improbable ride of a movie. The film is well structured revealing Salt’s back story and motivations very efficiently and on a “need to know” basis through well placed exposition and flashbacks.

“Salt” also left me concerned about how secure some of our national institutions are. I mean, according to “Salt,” with all sorts of armed agents, guards and security cameras in a CIA office and the White House, not to mention a state funeral at New York’s Saint Bart’s Church, it is surprising how Salt is able to break in and wreak havoc. Armed guards seem to stand around waiting for Ms. Jolie to either drop kick them into unconsciousness or shoot them. They never seem to attack in numbers or call for back up and whoever is supposed to be watching the security cameras seems to be on a perpetual coffee break. In fact, if I tried half the maneuvers accomplished by Jolie, no doubt aided by movie stunt and special effects personnel, I would be in traction for the next three years. Plus, whenever Salt is on the run she seems to always filch clothes that are just her size.

Granted, I did spend much of the movie saying “Oh come on” but, at the same time, I admit being intrigued despite knowing better. I still wanted to know what was going to happen next and cared about the character. For this I credit Kurt Wimmer, the writer of “Salt.” He has made the effort to create an interesting main character and knows when and how to dole out information. Wimmer’s pacing caused me to stay with the story despite its silliness. The writer pushes the limits of credibility just enough so that while we can snicker at it we can still enjoy the film in spite of this…or maybe even because of it.

Salt, Director Phillip Noyce, 2010,

Columbia Picture,100 minutes, PG-13


About unpaidfilmcritic

Up until 2009 Seth Shire spent nearly two decades in the New York film industry as a post production supervisor of feature films. Highlights include working on the films of Martin Scorsese, James Toback and Spike Lee. Since leaving the film industry Seth has expanded into new and varied areas where he has found a great deal of satisfaction. Seth currently teaches in the Sociology Department of CUNY Queens College. His courses include "Mass Media and Popular Culture," "Introduction to Sociology," and "Sociology of Cinema" where he is a very popular teacher. Seth is also the film critic for "Town & Village," a Manhattan weekly newspaper, a position he has held for the past six years. Seth gives back to his community through volunteer teaching at Manhattan's "The Caring Community," a center for senior citizens, where he teaches a very popular course on documentaries called "The Golden Age of the Documentary. In the fall of 2010 Seth taught "Critical Reading and Writing" at Parsons School of Design. He has also taught "Cinema Studies" at the New York Film Academy. Seth lives in Stuyvesant Town, in Manhattan.

Posted on July 24, 2010, in New. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. patrick smith

    Sethaleh, boobie, don’t be afraid to be your devastatingly pithy, sarcastic self. You are the Jewish Oscar Wilde at our fin de siecle, and we need you.

    This movie sucks. It sucks because it has no heart and no puzzle. Without either, spy tales become super-hero trash.

    The Whistleblower, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, even State of Play are examples of good spy films.

    Salt will appeal to men who crave domination.

    Great job overall, you da man.

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