‘Salt’ high on action, lacks other spices (IANS Film Review; Rating:***)

July 24th, 2010 - 4:48 pm ICT by IANS  

Angelina Jolie By Satyen K. Bordoloi
Film: “Salt”; Director: Phillip Noyce; Cast: Angelina Jolie, Liev Schreiber, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Daniel Olbrychski; Rating:***

Action movies are easy. All it needs is a decent story, action and wit. An action-thriller is a different ball-game altogether. Not only do they have to get the action right, they also have to get the suspense and its delivery right. “Salt” scores on the action and the story, but fails in the convincing delivery of the suspense.

In the film, Evelyn Salt (Angelina Jolie) is a CIA operative in New York, married to a German. A Russian defector informs them that Russia has infiltrated many super soldiers in different defence agencies of the US who wait for the order to carry out subversive activities and Salt is one of them. He tells her that it would be her job to assassinate the Russian president who would be visiting the US soon.

When the needle of suspicion is directed towards her, she escapes but states that she has done so to save her husband. The rest of the film plays on who exactly is Salt, a Russian assassin or a US spy with some interesting twists and turns.

The plot and the suspense are not the film’s drawbacks. Neither is the action as Jolie’s antics keep the audience glued. The problem is the pace and timing at which the suspense unfolds.

Not much time is dwelt on the transformation of Salt due to her attachment to her loving husband, thus losing out on a stronger emotional connect for the audience.

Also, the Russian connect is a bit too late. Had it been in the Cold War, the topicality and believability of it would not have been so lost to an average viewer today.

Originally the script was written with a male lead in mind and Tom Cruise was approached to play the lead. However, he had problems with it being similar to his “Mission Impossible” franchisee after which the lead was turned to a female.

Indeed, the character of Salt borrows heavily from Ethan Hunt in “Mission Impossible” as well as Jason Bourne in the ‘Bourne’ series of films.

Kurt Wimmer, who has written the cult classic “Equilibrium”, fails in getting the same tension and depth to the story in “Salt”. Yet, if the film is a hit, room is left open for sequels to follow.

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