' ' Cinema Romantico: Salt

Monday, July 26, 2010


Eerily topical and blessedly devoid of asinine one-liners, "Salt," directed by Phillip Noyce and starring Angelina Jolie as a delicious mixture of Jason Bourne and Sydney Bristow while still allowing her to revel in all her Jolie-ness, which is to say no one kicks ass with as much understatement as Angelina, is the best pure action movie since "The Bourne Supremacy." It doesn't dilly dally. It gets up and goes. You can pick up the scant character as it thunder alongs. It is a movie where marriage proposals are made upon leaving North Korean prison compounds and where if someone shouts "We've got her!" it means that, rest assured, they haven't got her and proves once and for all that 1.) The Laws of Physics should only be applicable in stuffy science classrooms and 2.) Drivers of this great nation have to deal with all those endlessly irritating semi trucks for a reason. It's sensational. Go see, and if you want to see it without spoilers of any kind then read no further.

Jolie is Evelyn Salt, married to a German (August Diehl) who tends to poisonous spiders, which is obviously foreshadowing something (ah, but what?), a C.I.A agent who, 26 minutes before her wedding anniversary, if forced to interrogate a Russian defector (Daniel Olbrychski) who advises a Russian super duper sleeper spy is set to assassinate the Russian President when he visits the U.S. in a few days time for the Vice President's funeral. The super duper sleeper spy's name? "Evelyn Salt," he says. "That's my name," says Evelyn Salt. Uh oh.

Naturally two high ranking C.I.A. officials, Winter (Liev Schrieber) and Peabody(Chiwetel Ejiofor), want to question Salt. So they put her in an interrogation room - yeah, like Evelyn Salt's gonna stay in there - at which point the film unleashes 30 minutes or so of such flabbergastingly fantastic action it might very well leave you exhausted before the film is even half over.

Oh, there are twists and turns aplenty still to come and not only is there an assassination attempt on the Russian President but also an assassination attempt on the U.S. President and potential nuclear annihiliation. Yet despite so much content Noyce and his writer Kurt Wimmer manage what most of their contemporaries cannot and hold the proceedings in well under two hours and they do it by ignoring extranaeous fluff and keeping the throttle down. They provide just enough exposition to give us our bearings and then go, go, go! The film's only flaw - and it's not really flaw so much as the persnickety problem that prevents it from achieving perfection - is an overlong third act, particularly a Talking Killer Scene that easily could have been condensed to three or four sentences and one important television image with a little screenwriting craft. Alas. It rebounds, anyway, with a perfect end because it knows precisely when to end.

"The Expendables", written and directed by and starring Sylvester Stallone, and starring just about every other male action star you can think of, is set for release in a couple weeks, except now it could not be any more anti-climactic. This is because if Angelina Jolie yearns in any way to rule the action genre then it will be hers and hers alone.


My Other Brother Daryl said...

Damn it, Prigge, I thought this movie was about protests against the British government in India. Now you've taken all the fun out of my three movies per year. Spoiler, indeed.

Nick Prigge said...

I told you! You can't get mad at me if if I ISSUED a spoiler alert.

Also, this movie is like one giant spoiler alert. Every 12 seconds there is another spoiler. I mentioned approximately 17 spoilers so you still have another 142 to go. You'll be fine.