MOVIE: Salt (2010)

The first time I saw the TV show Alias, I ended up glued to the couch for two straight days, consuming both season one and a ton of caffeine absolutely voraciously.  It was smart, energetic, creative, and really damn FUN.  Season two was likewise delicious, and, well, you know, it got kind of hokey after that.  I still loved it, mind you — I own every season but the last one on DVD and have watched each one more than once.  But I missed the early days when the focus was more on the spy stuff, the costume changes, the ass-kicking, and less on Michael Vartan and Jennifer Garner’s on- and off-screen romantic woes.

So it was with a little bit of glee, silly as that may sound, that I found myself thinking of Alias not fifteen minutes into Salt.  Same premise, of course:  spy woman who kicks serious ass, using her brains just as often as her brawn, and it even had the whole “Soviets trained kids to be super spies” thing going on.  But even better, it was clever, full of twists, complicated, entertainingly sharp.  I had read some reviews when it first came out that suggested it was a bit lacking in originality but entertaining in all other regards, but I’m going to disagree with that first bit.  Even though we’ve seen spy movies enough times to know roughly how this one was going to go (I had every traditional spy story theory rattling through my head at one time or another), I still didn’t have it all figured out until much later in the game than I expected.  Agent?  Double agent?  Triple agent?  Innocent?  Guilty?  A pawn?  Brainwashed?  Damned if I knew, and damned if I didn’t have an absolute blast finding out.

Evelyn Salt (Angelina Jolie) is having a pretty good day the day it all begins — she’s leaving work early to celebrate her first wedding anniversary and has big plans for a quiet night in with her husband, an entomologist.  But as she’s headed out the door, her colleague (Liev Schreiber, who is great in this) stops her and asks her to talk to a Russian man who’s just come in claiming he’s a defector with information about a planned hit on the Russian president.  Salt’s had extensive experience with the Soviets, so she agrees to interview him, assuming he’s a fraud.  But all hell breaks loose when he announces he knows who’s planning the assassination — an American spy who’s really a Russian spy. Named Evelyn Salt.

Where it goes from there, I’ll leave for you to discover.  But I’ll tell you this much, I had a great time watching this flick.  The action is exciting and fun, the story kept me guessing, and everything tied up pretty neatly at the end, even while it left things wide, wide open for a sequel (which I hope they’ll follow-through on).  If you were a fan of Alias too, or you just like a good summer action flick, I think you’ll really enjoy this one.  Check it out!  And while it’s still in theaters, I say, if only so you can watch shit blow up enormously in front of your face.  Sweeeeeeet.  Recommended!

p.s. Chiwetel Ejiofor?  Mrrrrrrowl!

[Prequeue at Netflix | View trailer]

Genre:  Action/Spy
Cast:  Angelina Jolie, Liev Schreiber, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Daniel Olbrychski, Andre Braugher

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7 Responses to “MOVIE: Salt (2010)”

  1. Liz Says:

    I took one look at Angelina Jolie in the trailers, and immediately thought “Alias.”
    I’ve also heard mixed reviews of the movie, and that it is suffering by comparison with “Inception,” which, I admit, I’m more interested in seeing. 😕

  2. Haidee Says:

    Chiwetel Ejiofor? I assume you’ve seen Serenity more than once then?

  3. Trip Says:

    That girl will rain destruction down on your ship.

  4. Trip Says:

    OK, so finally caught this one at the local megaplex tonight, as a means to distract my brain after a stressful day at work.

    Instead, what I got was 20 minutes of a decent chase flick, followed by about 80 minutes of the biggest pile of cinematic BS, which if it were an actual pile of BS, would be visible from space.

    This is the Mother of all Poor-Hiring-Practices Spy Agency movies. I can see why Tom Cruise turned it down – he already did three of these under the Mission:Impossible name, but not even those could hold a candle to the epic internal security FAIL on display in Salt.

    Not sure where to begin with all the absurdity, but this non-spoiler stands out: for the spy kids’ mission to succeed, the Spy Daddy would have had to precisely predict world events, decades in advance. You know, little things like…

    * The Berlin Wall falling
    * Czechoslovakia bailing to the West
    * The Czechs then joining NATO to the point where their officers enjoy “Sure Come On In” clearance to urgent White House security meetings

    …not to mention the worst, yet funniest make-up job since aliens turned Charlie Sheen into Geraldo Rivera in The Arrival. Oh, I could go on.

    While I appreciated the clearly expensive action sequences, the story behind them was so staggeringly implausible, so over the top, and yet so serious of itself, that I just couldn’t sustain the buy-in.

  5. megwood Says:

    Oh, you be quiet.

    That was a really terrible make-up job, though.

  6. Trip Says:

    Heh. Srsly – that was the exact moment when I fell off the fence.

    I think I would have preferred Jennifer Garner to Angelina Jolie in this. No one should ever punch Angelina in the face like that. Besides, Sidney Bristow was an artist with fire extinguishers.

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