“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