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July 27, 2010 > Movie Review: "Salt"

Movie Review: "Salt"

By Mary Dixon

A compelling combination of action and dark mystery, Phillip Noyce ("Catch a Fire") directs "Salt," starring Angelina Jolie as Evelyn Salt. This is the Australian-born director's second film with Jolie, previously working with her in 1999's "The Bone Collector." Noyce is a self-made director, known for his docu-dramas and "political thrillers," according to the Internet Movie Database. "Salt" is definitely one of those thrillers.

Viewers first see Evelyn Salt stripped to her underclothes, bleeding, chained to the floor in a dirty, dimly lit room, surrounded by North Korean soldiers. Salt chants repeatedly, "I am not a spy, I am not a spy," and audiences collectively cringe as gasoline is forced down her throat. Luckily, Salt is soon traded back into U.S. custody, with fellow CIA agent Ted Winter, played by Liev Schreiber ("The Sum of All Fears") waiting for her.

Everything appears to return to normal but just as Salt is leaving work, a Russian defector arrives and she is asked to deal with him. The traitor Orlov, played by Daniel Olbrychski, (a European TV and movie actor) spins a tale for Salt, a twisted plot to take over the world using brainwashed Russian children. These children are planted in American families, poised to cause maximum damage when the time is right. Salt scoffs at the story, but then the old man names Salt as the Russian spy who will kill the Russian President during his visit to the Capitol, inciting another world war.

Jolie's portrayal of Evelyn Salt is certainly intimidating-she pulls off incredible stunts in every action sequence-but despite her outward beauty, Salt's character is virtually heartless. Perhaps that is Noyce's intent, to show how politics and power can corrupt and canker anything beautiful. Salt has a spider-loving husband in the film, Mike Krause, (August Diehl, "Inglourious Basterds") but it does little to endear her to audience members. When any character spends all their time killing, lying, and appearing to have no loyalties, it makes whatever "good" they manage to do practically meaningless.

Other key characters in this film include Chiwetel Ejiofor ("2012") as Peabody, Salt's boss. Peabody immediately takes Orlov's accusation seriously and attempts to pin Salt down for questioning, making him the misled but determined good guy. Ejiofor plays his part well and moviegoers will enjoy cheering on Salt as she continues to evade Peabody.

Low lighting, unsteady camera angles and grainy security camera shots add to the ambience, giving audience members a good feel for what it's like chasing someone down. The musical score fits well, speeding up during chase scenes and intensifying the quiet, about-to-blow moments in the movie.

Those in the mood for a dark, action-packed mystery with plenty of twists and turns will enjoy seeing "Salt" this summer. For those in the mood for something heartwarming and fulfilling, however, this is not the movie for them. Anyone who is not a diehard Angelina Jolie fan or an action movie fan would do better to wait and rent this film on DVD than see it on the silver screen.

Rating: PG-13
Run Time: 100 minutes

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