Monday, August 8, 2011

Salt (2010)

Last year I heard a lot of talk surrounding Salt. It was originally going to star Tom Cruise, but he backed out after he decided it was too close to his Mission Impossible character. The decision was then made to change the script slightly to make it a starring role for Angelina Jolie. The story goes that a studio executive had offered Jolie a role as a Bond girl in the past, and Jolie had responded that she would rather be James Bond instead. So when this movie lost its star, they decided to give her that chance.

Knowing all this I couldn't help but watch the film from the perspective of whether or not it felt like a woman playing a man's role, if they had perhaps changed a lot to make it more feminine, or if it was just a role anyone of any gender could play. I actually think they did a really good job of accomplishing creating a gender neutral film for the most part. Evelyn Salt is a CIA agent who is accused of being a Russian spy who will soon assassinate the Russian president while he is in America in order to start a war. She runs away from her fellow CIA members because she is concerned that the group accusing her has probably kidnapped her husband or worse.

The main thing about the film is that we are purposely left in the dark about where Salt's loyalties lie. It's used to create suspense and it makes this film a bit different than many other "man on the run" type films, but it also makes it hard for you to sympathize with the character when you don't know whose side she is on.
The theory behind this plot, that there were children trained in Russia from a very early age to be American citizens waiting around to cause this war, is also very hard to swallow. As the man was setting up the premise, I couldn't help but roll my eyes. It borders on science fiction, or at least wild conspiracy theory. However once I accepted it, I didn't have any other problems with the story itself.

It's a decent action flick with lots of fighting and some explosions, and they all happen for a reason, which is something I can't say for some Bond films I've seen. Jolie did nearly all her own stunts and fighting and it comes off really well.

The only thing I thought a bit silly was that it seemed the entirety of the other sleeper agents who were revealed were all male. Would it have been too hard to find some females at least among the extras, if not the leads? Beyond that it was really refreshing to see a woman in this type of role who wasn't a mother doing it all to save her child or a temptress flashing her boobs to get her way. Salt is intelligent, resourceful, and pragmatic while also having a heart. It's something we just don't see often enough these days. About the only other recent female action lead I can think of is Milla Jovovich the Resident Evil series, and I haven't seen any of those to know how good they are.

It's not a perfect film by any means, but if you're in the mood for a decent action thriller, it's definitely worth checking out.


  1. +JMJ+

    There's actually a movie from the 80s starring John Travolta with an entire village of Russians training to be sleepers. When Travolta and a pal are drugged, kidnapped and sent to that village, they totally believe it's actually a small town in the middle of Nebraska. Until, of course, things start to get too weird. =P

  2. I think one of the characters in Salt says something about it being an urban legend, so maybe it is? Though I can't really see how anyone could believe it.

  3. +JMJ+

    On the one hand, I wonder whether people were more paranoid during the Cold War and more willing to believe the most absurd premises.

    On the other hand, I didn't make it clear earlier the Travolta movie I mentioned is totally a comedy! ;-)

    It might have been exploiting an urban legend in the same way, but certainly not taking it seriously.

  4. I think I just found it on Wikipedia. What a perfectly 80s sounding comedy. :)


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