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MOVIE REVIEW: Salt

Jolie Talks Salt at Comic-Con

Salt: Rates a C-.
Courtesy photo

I heard two things about Salt I found interesting. First, that the part was originally written for Tom Cruise. I didn’t think movies were written for people (aside from Being John Malkovich). Weird that they went complete opposite when he backed out – a woman, someone tall, blonde, and not a Scientologist.

Second, the whole concept about Russian spies infiltrating the U.S. Does that happen anymore? Oh, wait…I guess it does. We did just catch 10 Russian spies and traded them back for four of ours (and a spy to be named later). Although, the spies we caught weren’t really doing much. And we don’t have that fear of Russia like we did in the 1950s, or '70s. Jolie might not be aware of that, since on her panel at Comic-Con she said, “The citizen in me hopes it won’t change anything regarding our relationship with Russia. But the side of me that makes a film about this says, ‘My God, what timing! Maybe the Sony marketing department should get some kind of award.”

Yeah, well…their award is going to be the $150 million this film is going to pull in domestically.

The set up in the beginning of the movie was kind of cool. They fictionally (have to say that for the conspiracy theory goofballs out there) have the Russians using Oswald to assassinate Kennedy. They grab genius kids in Russia, train them, and get them into the U.S. for use in the future.

So, Angelina Jolie is working for the CIA in a high ranking position, when a Russian comes in and tells her all about that plan of the big, bad ruskies. So far, so good. Even the Russian informants shoes were kinda cool (You thought Maxwell Smarts black loafers were nifty with the phone on the souls, these things had knives sticking out of the toes. Probably more dangerous than the skate shoes kids have.)

At Comic-Con, Jolie appeared with her co-star Liev Schreiber. She talked about doing most of the stunts herself (I’m guessing not the one where she rolled off a bridge onto an 18-wheeler going 55 mph).

Jolie said she hit her head on a table and was bleeding all over the place (I always wonder if they keep cameras rolling; it would make the scene more authentic).

Someone at Comic Con mentioned Jolie having not been to Comic-Con since Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. Interesting, because the Salt character basically is Lara Croft.

The movie basically then becomes just another action picture, with highly implausible situations cropping up. Now that being said, the stunts and chase scenes are so well done, it’s easy to give the film a pass. I couldn’t, because it just got so silly so fast. Even the way the Russian came into the CIA office and got the ball rolling, turns out to be a horrible plan when the film finishes and you realize how many things had to go a certain way for things to work out.

The amount of silly logic was kept to a minimum, which is good. One of the few scenes that bothered me was Jolie, who is a very smart, shooting a gun into bullet proof glass. After one shot does nothing, she unloads the small gun into the glass. Still nothing. She picks up a machine gun, and again, nothing. What I’m wondering is…where are the bullets ricocheting? I read stories in the paper a few times a year, where a bullet ricochets off something and hits a person. The movie Out of Sight took this into account when Don Cheadles peeps fired a gun at a safe.

And on the subject of other movies, this just isn’t as good as the Bourne Identity or early Bond films. Not that everything has to be. But there’s something fun about those guys having great fight scenes and using cool little electronic gadgets. Salt uses black widow spiders.

I didn’t even have a problem with her beating up 10 big guys with Uzis. It’s funny, because Michelle Pfeiffer can do a movie where she goes into a poor school and makes all the thugs want to start learning, and I think that’s unrealistic. But some woman that beats up 10 guys with machine guns I don’t think twice about.

As much fun as some of these chase scenes are, a little go along way. When I think of great car chase scenes in movies – Bullitt, French Connection, Ronin – they had one or two. It wasn’t an entire movie of them. A little goes a long way.

My friend that saw Jolie speaking at the Comic-Con panel told me they said this was based on a former CIA agent named Melissa Mahle, who served as a consultant on the film. Jolie told the crowd, “A big part of it was just meeting her. You think you’re going to play this tough CIA girl and wonder what she’s going to look like, what’s she going to feel like, be like. Then you meet her and she’s so lovely, and she’s so elegant and counters any stereotype of some obviously tough woman.”

Maybe they should’ve just done a bio-pic on Mahle.

Sure, there’s some exhilarating stuff here, in an unrealistic story.

This Salt was starting to give me high blood pressure, too.

Rent the movie No Way Out, for a great film on Russian spies.

I’m giving this a C-.