Tuesday, 24 August 2010


Angelina Jolie goes back to her Tomb Raider roots for another action flick that promised to be the next Bourne for chicks. But is it worth it's salt?

There had been a lot of hype around this film before it's release. It promised to be a global spy thriller that would make James Bond fans blush as Angelina Jolie kicks some ass. But once I heard Phillip Noyce was directing, the cracks started to show. The man had a lot of ups and downs with mediocre films - Dead Calm, Sliver, Patriot Games, Rabbit-Proof Fence, The Quiet American, The Saint - all of which could be equally accused of being shit or enjoyable, depending on your tastes. I am one of the latter having enjoyed the chills of Dead Calm, the sexiness of Stone in Sliver and even thought The Saint was alright, there was an air of the Nineties about his work that I enjoyed. But I don't think there's much controversy on how awful Salt is.

Let's start with the story, Jolie is a CIA agent that is accused of being a Russian spy, so she goes on the run. That's just the beginning in a plot of twists and turns that surpass ridiculous and venture into near-insanity, but with a driving force like Jolie behind it, then surely she'll keep it all grounded right? Well, no. In fact after the first 15 minutes, she doesn't really say much or expose any emotion at all. It doesn't come across as subterfuge but rather indifference. It seems Jolie just doesn't care how her character comes across, she blazes her way from one scenario to the next without letting the audience, or anyone at all, into what she's doing. This isolation might need to work in terms of the story, but surely some more dialogue would help? It would at least make it more credible. I don't mind being confused as long as people are talking about it rather than ignoring everyone.

The film is non-stop action and I was completely bored. I had no emotional investment in any of the characters and couldn't care less if Jolie died at any point. At some points, I would imagine the audience would think she deserves it! Her callousness towards shooting the police yet the audience's wish to sympathise with her and the plot twists made me give up after a little while and so I just sat back and watched it play out without any interest whatsoever.

I'd heard people were worried about Jolie's weight during the filming and I'm not surprised. She is so thin that I doubt she could lift her arms let alone knock a guy out. The stunt men have to really work hard to make it look like she is tough but believe me, if she knocked me with her arm against the wall, I might be slightly shocked but not unconscious - and I'm not even hard. They could have made her more acrobatic to justify it somewhat but it seems she relies on her strength for most of the fighting, which is stupid.

I also couldn't help but think how much better Tom Cruise would have played the role as he was first choice but it proves again that Jolie hasn't got the acting chops to deliver consistent results. I liked her work in Girl, Interrupted, I liked her in Changeling and who didn't like her in Hackers? But it seems as if all the energy has been pulled out of her and in an action film that doesn't really cut it. Let's be honest everyone, Angelina Jolie is quite a shit actress. Which brings me on to the ever-lovable Liev Schrieber who is just waiting to get those big roles coming in - which is deserving as, even though he pretty much plays the same character as he did in Repo Men, it still shows that he can do his bit. In fact the entire rest of the cast were the only ones keeping it together. Ejiofor again shows how well our young British actors can fare overseas and even unknown (in Western cinemas anyway) Daniel Olbrychski as the Russian turncoat plays a mean part. He is apparently known for his Bale-like temper and legend has it that he rides horses through towns. It's even been reported that a picture of him in a contemporary art exhibition put him in an SS uniform, so he got a TV crew and a saber and cut up the painting. This has nothing to do with the film, it's just cool.

So for an action film, what's the action like? Well, it's alright. It's not anywhere near Jason Bourne status and for the sheer scale of it, it didn't feel like anything special. In fact, I felt I was waiting more for the action to finish so I could understand what was going on rather than enjoying it. It also had moments of stupidity that I can't forgive such as Jolie dressed up as a rather effeminate young man, wearing a stereotypically Russian outfit to be 'Russian' and the fact her husband is ugly as sin.

Overall, I hated it. I wouldn't even recommend this for the action. The plot is it's only saving grace by being a bit different, but essentially it's a load of crap trying to twist things up as far as it can in a world full of films with twists. Don't bother, there's better films to waste your time on. I'd rather have watched Tekken again - and that's saying something. Oh and there will probably be a Salt 2. Great.

Rating: 4/10

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