'Salt' (dir: Phillip Noyce, 2010), Cert: 12A
When you think of a Hollywood action heroine, the first star that springs to mind is Angelina Jolie. She’s sexy, hard as nails and is a huge screen presence. For director Phillip Noyce, Jolie wasn’t the original choice for his lead character in ‘Salt’; in fact, he didn’t even have a woman in mind. The role was initially intended for Tom Cruise; however he turned the film down to star in ‘Knight and Day’. Much about ‘Salt’ has been carefully hidden from under the media’s watchful eye leaving plenty with no information about the picture which leaves us agreeing with the movie’s tagline, Who is Salt?
Evelyn Salt (Angelina Jolie) is a CIA agent working in Washington. As she leaves the office to celebrate her anniversary with her husband, Salt is pulled back in to interview a Russian man named Vassily Orlov (Daniel Olbrychski) who’s arrived with information. Orlov tells Salt that a Russian spy will kill the Russian President in New York where he will be attending the funeral of the American Vice-President. The name of the spy is Evelyn Salt. Crippled by fear and anxiety, Salt goes on the run, but not all is as it seems. As Salt’s obscure past begins to unravel, the CIA realise that Evelyn might not be who she protests to be.
In retrospect, ‘Salt’ is a Hollywood Action to a tee. It’s jam-packed with thrills, spills and hundreds of kills, but if you dig a little deeper, this picture provides much more than meets the eye. It’s glowing with intelligence that rival pictures don’t always possess and it has a well-structured and multi-layered narrative that keeps you constantly guessing and forces the audience to stay on its toes. In 100 minutes, the audience is flung through America and Russia embarking on a journey with an unknown alias who operates on both sides of the law and isn’t afraid to get blood on her hands in order to maintain a goal. Salt hardly sounds like an average Hollywood protagonist does she? Like a mixture of Jason Bourne and Fox (Jolie’s assassin character from 2008’s ‘Wanted’), Jolie’s portrayal of Salt is a dark and ingenious one.
This is also one of the best films Phillip Noyce has directed since ‘The Bone Collector’ (1999), the film that really started Jolie’s career. ‘Salt’ is filled with fantastic cinematography, pyrotechnics and special effects that compliment Noyce’s précised direction.
Personally, I think Cruise would have been wrong for this movie, he lacks the devious edge that was essential for the character of Salt to live and breathe. Jolie nails the role and is one of her best characters for a while.
So in summary, ‘Salt’ is a brilliant film that will please most audiences. It’s a great Popcorn flick, a great Action flick, but most of all, it’s a generally great film.
Verdict: 4 out of 5: ‘Salt’ is a tightly wound, high-octane Action Thriller that fails to lose pace, intrigue or excellence.
By Chris Haydon