Salt is a non-stop, high energy, over-the-top action film that I surprisingly enjoyed the heck out of. Too bad Angelina Jolie couldn’t keep this type of momentum going for her performance in The Tourist, which is absolutely dreadful, because she is perfect here (the role was written for Tom Cruise to play but I believe Jolie could eat him for breakfast if they were pitted against each other in real life).
CIA agent Evelyn Salt (Jolie) is accused of being a Russian spy and immediately goes on the run with the intention of protecting her husband and clearing her name. Or is she really a Russian spy escaping so she can carry out her supposed mission –- to kill the Russian president while he’s in New York City attending the funeral of the American vice president, thereby starting another war between America and Russia? Sure, it feels like a thriller we would have seen in the ‘80s during the height of the tension between America and Russia, but it somehow comes across as fresh these days.
As I stated above, Jolie is perfect in this role, and since 90% of the film is her running, getting shot at, shooting back, jumping off bridges/buildings/cars, and blowing things up using MacGyver-style bombs, she carries the movie and sells it as something believable. Give someone like Nicole Kidman or Jennifer Connelly a gun and the audience laughs, but with Jolie you accept it the same way you would if it was Harrison Ford. She also comes across so tough with the martial arts and physical aspects of the role that she makes Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne character look like a little schoolgirl.
In supporting roles Liev Schreiber and Chiwetel Ejiofor, playing fellow CIA agents hunting for Salt, fulfill their generic parts fine even if they are shrouded in Jolie’s shadow. Neither gets to show their true talent but both deliver what they are supposed to and are solid while doing so.
Director Phillip Noyce, who last directed Jolie in the 1999 psychological thriller The Bone Collector, knows how to handle politically-driven action spy films (he also directed Patriot Games and Clear And Present Danger), and while Salt might not be the best film to come along this year it is fun and exciting and has all the right elements to entertain you if you give it a chance.
The Blu-ray release is top-notch, and the 1080p image is sharp, clear, and visually exciting. The 5.1 DTS-HD sound mix is also glorious and will rock your system to the max during those wonderful action sequences. Special features include the theatrical cut and unrated extended cut of the film, audio commentary with director Philip Noyce, making-of featurettes, BD-Live functionality, and more.
Film *** Blu-ray *** (out of 5 stars)