From the Editor

Movie Review Archive

Thank you for checking out my movie review archive. I'm in the process of transitioning to something else, so I will no longer post new reviews to this blog. In the meantime, I will keep these reviews archived; these are from the fall of 2008 to April 2011. Please watch this blog for more info and keep in touch (you can still find me on Facebook and Twitter). Here's to more great movies!

Wes Singleton

North Texas Film Critics Association

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Salt - B

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, 100 minutes

"Salt:" Fun, over-the-top Jolie spy chick action movie

Add a little spice to your summer by seeing the enjoyable, straightforward new spy flick "Salt," starring Angelina Jolie. Implausible, over-the-top and utterly preposterous, Jolie still makes it watchable along with some terrific, fast-paced action set-pieces that give the movie some heft. Move over Bond, Jolie is a tough, sexy spy chick and "Salt" has just as much, if not more, flavor than the last two 007 flicks, not to mention many recent action flicks.

As a CIA officer, Evelyn Salt (Jolie) swore an oath to duty, honor and country. Her loyalty will be put to the ultimate test when a Russian defector accuses her of being a Russian spy. Salt is then forced to go on the run, using all her skills and years of experience as a covert operative to elude capture. Trailing her is her boss Ted Winter (Liev Schreiber), who believes in Salt's innocence, and her brash colleague Peabody (Chitewel Ejiofor) who believes the opposite. Salt's efforts to prove her innocence only serve to cast doubt on her motives, as the hunt to uncover the truth behind her identity continues and the question remains: "Who is Salt?"

Who or what is "Salt?" It's a vastly entertaining cat-and-mouse, explosive speed chase of a movie, heightened by Jolie's voluptuous, durable spy girl, who may or may be who she says she is. Jolie has more than proven her action-adventure skills with "Tomb Raider" and "Wanted," and whatever your personal feelings for her, she centers the movie quite well. Director Phillip Noyce, who tread similar ground with "The Quiet American" and "Clear and Present Danger," keeps the action flowing at a nice, quick pace, with a couple of breathless shootouts (one in a church) and a couple of fun car chase scenes (and if they look realistic, it's because Jolie supposedly did most of her own stunts).

"Salt's" isn't perfect on every level, though; the uneven and often absurd script from Kurt Wimmer and Oscar-winner Brian Helgeland ("L.A. Confidential") hardly lacks subtly or implausibility. "Salt" is as simplistic, maybe overly so, in contrast to the complexities of the recent "Inception." Characters aren't fully developed and the action always happens in a big, colorful way; even the twists and turns are excessively flashy. But there's no denying that "Salt" is also big fun, accomplishing exactly what it set out to do: entertain. And while Jolie is certainly in full control, there are a couple of decent supporting performances from Ejiofor as her suspicious colleague and Schreiber as the boss who has his own secrets.

The hokey-ish ending certainly leaves it open for more "Salt" assignments (interestingly enough this was originally intended for a male lead - Tom Cruise - who may be kicking himself after his recent spy movie "Knight and Day" disappointed) and if they're as highly charged and entertaining as this, that would be a welcome thing. "Salt" isn't perfect, but overall it's a satisfying spy flick peppered with some superb action set-pieces and one tough spy chick.