If you’re looking for a Jason Bourne styled, epic espionage, mind-bender of a spy thriller, then I’m sad to say that Salt is not your movie. Despite the presence of both Angelina Joile and Liev Schreiber, Salt manages to somehow fall flat in a summer of flat movies.
While it’s fair to suggest that there are elements to the film that work, there’s a greater amount that simply do not. As I sat in the theater watching Phillip Noyce’s latest feature, I wondered why I was bored. The movie revolves around CIA agent Evelyn Salt who goes on the run after a defector accuses her of being a Russian spy. This happens early on in the movie, so we’re privy to none-stop action of Joile doing lots and lots of running, while occasionally hopping onto still-moving trucks.
There are hundreds, if not thousands of action movies in the gargantuan world of cinema, and by this point, to construct a decently structured action/spy flick, should not be the largest of challenges. The key failure for Salt is lack of motivation. The audience is left wondering from the offset why Salt is running from her allies and why they are chasing her. Sure, she’s been accused of planning to assassinate the Russian president, but that doesn’t necessarily entitle her or everyone else to rain down all kinds of hellfire in order to accomplish their goals. You don’t know why Salt is doing what she’s doing and Noyce tries to distract the audience with (subpar) flashy action and chase sequences in hopes you won’t notice this plot hole. Only towards the end of the movie are we given the reason behind Salt’s actions and even the reasons are somewhat lame.
We don’t care about virtually anyone on the screen and that’s another problem. Evelyn Salt is, for all intensive purposes, superhuman, and not in a good way. Capable of solving virtually any problem with little to no gear or time, one’s eyes tend to get tired after a while. Additionally I wondered why the hell the Russians were once again the bad guys. I was led to believe that era of cinema had died out sometime in the late 80s, though I suppose I’ve been proven wrong.
Regardless, the theme of Russians being the baddies has become rather trite by now and if I’m going to go to the movies, I do not wish to feel as though I’m watching some Cold War inspired movie. I wanted something fresh and startling when I was viewing Salt; a movie that didn’t try to rely on flashy car chases in order to get the job done. Overall, I was disappointed. Yes, Angelina manages to kick the arse of everyone who gets in her way and the fight scenes are decently choreographed, but that’s not enough to get a stamp of approval. If you want to see a kick ass action flick, save your money and spend it on buying watching something intentionally campy, rather than paying your way to sit in through Salt.