dir Phillip Noyce
scr Kurt Wimmer
prd Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Sunil Perkash
with Angelina Jolie, Liev Schreiber, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Daniel Olbrychski, August Diehl, Andre Braugher, Hunt Block, Olek Krupa, Corey Stoll, Daniel Pearce, Cassidy Hinkle, Kevin O'Donnell
release US 23.Jul.10, UK 20.Aug.10
10/US Columbia 1h40
Lover or distraction? Diehl and Jolie

schreiber ejiofor braugher
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Salt Intelligent filmmaking covers up the whopping plot holes in this action thriller. It's shot with confidence that makes it thoroughly enjoyable, with a few strong characters and a story that stays in constant motion.

Evelyn Salt (Jolie) is a skilled CIA operative devoted to both her husband (Diehl) and her country. Then a Russian spy (Olbrychski) tells her that she's actually a sleeper agent whose time has come. She denies this to her steely boss Ted (Schreiber) and hasty counter-intelligence agent Peabody (Ejiofor), but when things heat up she runs. Is she up to no good, or is she trying to stop the Russkies' evil plan? Sometimes it seems like even she isn't so sure.

Director Noyce gets things moving early, keeping us and the characters off-balance. Besides building tension, this is also an effective way to distract us from the continual string of logistical inconsistencies and lazy shorthand. Whether this is how Wimmer originally wrote it or it's the result of production tinkering hardly matters, coherence isn't exactly important to Hollywood at the moment.

What is important is having a huge star who can sell the film, and Jolie dives into the role completely. She clearly loves all of the action mayhem, slinky espionage and suggestive glances, not to mention playing a shady action hero who keeps us guessing. Schreiber and Ejiofor are also terrific, adding energy and urgency to their scenes, including some sharp-edged chemistry between them as they bicker about what to do about Salt. Intriguingly — and entertainingly — the most hapless people in the film are the presidents of the US and Russia (Block and Krupa).

Along the way, the action sequences generate some genuine thrills simply because they're so boldly executed. We never doubt for a second that Salt won't make it out of each scenario, but it's fun to watch her ingeniously using Spidey-skills in a lift shaft or going MacGyver to create a rocket launcher from a table leg and a fire extinguisher. The film's steady pace obscures the standard thriller formula, which kicks in more obviously in the end with a series of not-too-surprising revelations. But by then we're enjoying it too much to care.

cert 12 themes, violence, language 16.Aug.10

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... Salt Still waiting for your comments ... don't be shy.
© 2010 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall