A review of Salt with a side of spoilers…

Then, you are a Russian Spy.”

The plot for Salt should read something like this: Evelyn Salt played by Angelina Jolie is a CIA Officer accused of being a Russian Spy by a walk in Russian Defector. On the run from her own people she has to prove her innocence and find her husband before the President of the United States is assassinated.

Emphasis on should.

Salt was part of my decompression after SDCC. The Reading Theater, the same place I had attended the 5th Annual Screening of Serenity with the California Browncoats is great theater to go see a movie in. Oddly enough the same theater I saw Serenity in was where I saw Salt. It was nice to see Chiwetel Ejiofor, again.

The plot of the movie has perfect timing since weeks ago several deep sleeper agents from Russia had been found in America’s own back yard.

Phillip Noyce has directed great movies before, Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger along with a few episodes of Showtime’s Brotherhood. Putting him in the director’s seat probably saved this movie from becoming absolute garbage. The good news is this is nowhere near a woman’s version of Bourne Identity, a women’s version of the Bourne Identity would have had a better plot and I would have applauded that. Instead the script by Kurt Wimmer fails early.

The Info Dump by the Russian Defector in the first ten minutes shoves so much info down the audience throats it takes you out of the movie.

The best, cleanest and easiest info dump is when Obi Wan tells Luke about the Clone Wars and Vader during Star Wars. It flows so well you don’t even notice it. And, Sir Alec Guiness is a great actor so the audience feels at ease and is not barraged with a multitude of images. It’s simple. It’s sweet.

Salt, does not do simple and sweet.

Instead the supposed Russian Defector barrages us with dates, images and a plot to kill the President of the United States at the Vice President’s own Funeral. The death of the VP I was half expecting the Defector to pin on a Russian Agent but that nugget was never used. This use of a threat is perfectly fine in my eyes, get the audience interested quick. In the end he accuses Salt of being a Double Agent. The lie detector says: True and thus begins the Run, Angelina, Run plot line, during the commotion the Defector escapes too. Soon it turns out her husband has been kidnapped so she does what every self respecting accused CIA Agent would do, she goes to the Funeral to assassinate the Russian President.

The funeral sets up one of the better set pieces during the movie, the slight problem is: Salt manages to get a hotel room within viewing distance of the Funeral. Dear fellow screenwriters, for an event that big finding a hotel is going to be like finding a hotel within 2 blocks of SDCC.

Simple and Sweet would have been showing Chiwetel Ejiofor going from place to place putting the pieces of the puzzle together himself instead of disappearing for the half the movie like Cyclopes did in X-Men 2. Remember the scene in Clear and Present Danger when Harrison Ford and Joaquim de Almeida are trying to figure out who blew up the drug dealer’s house? Ford with a plethora of Janes books while Joaquim is using a computer. That’s what Salt needed. Leg work. And, I not talking Angie’s legs. I would ask where the brief lurve scene with Angie shown in the trailers went too, but I’m guessing delete scene on the DVD?

Instead, the plotline of: Is she or isn’t she a spy is brandied about until guess what: Yep. She is. She even wears a fuzzy hat so she must be a Russian Spy!

Does she find her husband: Yep, until the Russians shoot him to make sure she hasn’t gone rogue on them. The first clue he and his plot are expendable is when I didn’t recognize August Diehl.

Oh and by the way: Everyone else is a Russian Spy too!

Meh. I guess the problem I had with this spy vs spy is no one ever seemed in danger to warrant the audience to hold their breath.

The often lamented line: “Sandy (Bullock) needs a hit!” can be retired for obvious reasons. It can be replaced with “Angie needs a watchable, intelligent hit!”

Angelina is a wonderful actress when she’s given a good script where she’s not silently killing an entire Russian Cell with her own two hands, infiltrating the White House as a man, averting nuclear destruction and then escaping to fight another day in the sequel that has to be called Mrs. Dash.

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