Monday, September 6, 2010

A Review: Salt

Angie. Angie. Angie. You did it again. You proved that the right leading lady can sell a movie all by herself. And that she can sell a lot of tickets in the process. And that she can sell a lot of tickets in the process to her action movie.

And lastly: that she can sell a lot of ticket as a female lead in an action movie that wasn't very good but just above the cusp. Which almost puts it below.

See the biggest problem with this movie being called "preposterous" and "gloriously absurd" for is because we don't set Evelyn Salt up as a crack-badass, a superspy. When we meet her, she's gettin' the fuck beat out of her by North Koreans and then we cut to a desk job and a sweet homey life with her little German spider-studier husband. That doesn't spell out her ability to:
  • Assemble the make-shift rocket launcher out of materials from a janitor's push-cart and a fire extinguisher
  • Steal with precision and operate a motorcycle at brake-neck speed without thinking twice
  • Scale walls almost as good as Peter Parker 
  • Handled firearms like she stole the DeLorean DMC-12 from Doc Brown and trained with Annie Oakley
  • Perform hand-to-hand combat like she was trained by Jason Bourne, and for all we know maybe she was. Their both CIA agents right? 
Well, apparently because of plot details I can't reveal, it's supposed to be easy to swallow. And guess what? It's pretty fuckin' awesome to witness her being the most dangerous spy in the world, even if it is part of an atrocious plot device that gets so convoluted you'd need a neutron microscope to analyze and follow it. 

The plot, is as follows, for a few minutes at least: desk-jockey for the C.I.A. Evelyn Salt, is accused by a Russian defector for being a double agent and true Russian sleeper-spy. She then promptly bolts from the building s she is chased by counterintelligence agent Peabody (yes that's right) as her boss and colleague watches in mystery as she flees jump starting the action she attempts to see us. 

While exactly having me convinced at every turn, Jolie does the best an actress can to look and feel the part of a calculating and dangerous super-spy. Taking a few notes from her performance as Fox in '08's Wanted, at her won suggestion she had her lines trimmed down significantly for that part. And here, she attempts to give us some Cast Away notes of her own as we watch her hunt, creep, decide, walk, run, panic, smile, and grimace. And I thoroughly enjoyed watching it all. 

For every 15 to 20 lines, there's a good one, or, the script feels it's on a roll and we get about thirty seconds of good banter between all the hokey, trite, and trying-too-hardness in the dialogue (hardness? Yea whatev). It's almost like they needed a quick polish and they gave the script to some action junkie middle-schooler who's never passed an English class and only reads comic books. I dunno, just sayin'.

Over he weekend this film went on to produce 36 milly son. That's a lot of whiskey and women. And more than a lot of movies and films have been krunkin' out lately for an opener. And Mrs. Jolie-Pitt did this all on her own. Audiences weren't lining up because they new Philip Noyce was behind the camera. And speaking of, what the fuck is his friggin' deal(Yes I see what I just did) 

He goes from The Quiet American to Catch A Fire . . . to this? Him and Jolie were obviously trying to have a little fun this summer. This movie's attraction is watching Jolie spy superbly with plenty of very-routine thriller-action music provided by the wonderfully talented (and one of my favorite composers) James Newton Howard laying it down over the blockbuster punches, kicks, bullets, explosions and Russian dialogue. And in that respect, it certainly delivers and it's mission accomplished for this secret agent. There is a particular sequence executed quickly that will forever be inside my mind, and it ends up with Salt dangling from a stairwell, veins popping from her head with full blown fury all over that beautiful mug of hers, also with it covered in blood. Nice. . . 

But I mean, you would think by watching this, his artistic integrity was compromised by the material and the idea of helming a Jolie summer tent-pole. As they say in poker, "Blinded by the bright lights." Or maybe he's as cool as I hope, and he just didn't give a fuck, setting out to make his days brighter by pulling this movie off. Which he did, cuz in the wrongs hands this coulda turned out to be a complete disaster. Imagine Stephen Summers (G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra) directing and Scarlett Johansson top-lining. 

Oooff, rough. . .

If you happen to have and own any stars that possess luck, than thank them.

Munki out. 

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