Director    Philip Noyce
Starring    Angelina Jolie, Liev Schreiber, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Daniel Pearce, Hunt Block, Olek Krupa
Release    23 JUL (US) 18 AUG (UK)    Certificate 12A
3 stars


24th August 2010

Following the shelving of Bourne 4 for the immediate future, Philip Noyce's feature has been earmarked as its temporary replacement; however, for better or worse, it is not at all. Entering the film sceptical about Jolie as the main action lead and the plot itself, my spider-sense seemed to tingle 'average film syndrome'. I was right. However, upon my exit from the cinema, a strange sense of bewilderment and disappointment filled me.

Noyce has dabbled in spy films before with the strangely camp The Saint, but provides proficient spills and thrills for the 100 minute running time. The opening chase scene grabs the audience and identifies Salt as the perfect Hollywood super-spy, bouncing off lorries and cars like child's play. Indeed, the action scenes come thick and fast but the lack of humour throughout is strange.

Liev Schreiber, usually efficient and very watchable, is given little to entertain the audience. It's hard for us to care as there is no connection between the audience and the characters as they just seem to be robots on a mission. With a greater focus upon the overall plot and Salt herself, the other characters are given very little to go on from Kurt Wimmer's script and will leave you wanting.

[gallery]However, focusing all the attention upon Salt does provide the depth of character needed to keep the plot ticking over. Indeed, it does seem they had the 'Bourne with a vagina' idea in mind, providing us with flashbacks and desperate attempts to humanise our lead character. With ever-changing allegiances and an ever-twisting plot, it makes you work hard to figure out how you feel towards Salt. In the hands of a less experienced actress, the character could be overwhelmed by the plot and the pressure of being handed a lead role. Therefore, the casting of Jolie is perfect. She brings her outside celebrity status and her own acting skills to the role, providing a real screen presence.

In a summer sausage-fest at the cinema this year, it's nice to see a female get her own film to shine in. The ease of transition from a Tom Cruise starrer to an Angelina Jolie picture shows that it is possible for more films to have lead female roles. Jolie's experience in previous action roles puts her in good stead for the stunts. Her relationship with her husband acts as clear motivation, but as the M Night Shymalan-level twists kick in, the audience becomes disillusioned as to what motivates Salt.

Without revealing too much about the story, there are a series of unexpected turns within the film that basically derails the audience unexpectedly. From the trailer, it seemed our main protagonist was on the run from the C.I.A. after being framed for being a Russian spy. However, the film is rather different, suffocated by its own attempt to be clever and different. It starts off speedily and the opening premise is pretty standard action movie fare.

Adding a little spice to the occasion, Noyce brings the element of the unknown; as Salt tries to stay one step ahead of the C.I.A, Noyce tries to stay one step ahead of the audience. However, it doesn't completely work. TThe blur of allegiances, Jolie dressed as a man (face and all) and the ridiculous finale all smack you clean in the face with implausibility.

Furthermore, the film seems strangely dated, relying upon a twist of the old Cold War rivalry. If made in the early '90s, it would have been a fantastic film, but in this day and age, the film lacks bite - it's not the Bourne with a vagina that was needed. It's a start for a new breed of female action films, but it is still not quite there yet. Good enough for a wet Tuesday evening on DVD but hardly likely to bring the house down.

More:  Salt  Angelina Jolie
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