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Australia 2010
Directed by
Phillip Noyce
100 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
1 stars


Synopsis: Evelyn Salt (Angelina Jolie) is a CIA agent and highly respected by all, including her boss, Ted Winter (Liev Schreiber). Out of the blue, a Russian spy (Daniel Olbrychski) walks into their offices and claims that the President of Russia will be assassinated during his forthcoming visit to New York City by a Russian  assassin whose name is …. Evelyn Salt. WTF!!

As has been widely publicised the character of Evelyn Salt was originally a male and intended for Tom Cruise. He turned down the opportunity, the part was re-written, and Angelina Jolie stepped up to the plate. I can’t imagine that there was a lot of time spent on the re-write for other than two or three minutes of screen time Salt is a straight-ahead testosterone-fuelled action movie in the Mission Impossible style –  in defiance of laws of probability and a good few of physics, Tangelina leaps onto moving semi-trailers, survives multi-vehicle pile-ups, flies down lift wells, and wastes numerous goons while barely smudging her lippie as visually and aurally your brain is pummelled into a bloody I'll-sign-anything-you-want mess.

Phil Noyce has some of the finest Australian films ever made (from Newsfront, 1978 to Rabbit Proof Fence, 2002) on his C.V. as well as some solid bill-paying Hollywood gigs but with the big budget Salt he might be said to have graduated from Lalaland pole dancer to high-class hooker. Aside from the sheer leave-your-brain-at-the-door-and-buckle-up-for-the-ride-of-your-life head-banging nonsensicality of the story it is in fact only half a movie. It should have been called Salt 1 as the film abruptly ends with the action still in progress, meaning that you’ll have to pay again if you want the full sex, sorry...story (a fiscal strategy we saw earlier this year with Ridley Scott's Robin Hood). This is perhaps of little interest and indeed about the only thing that is, albeit at an extra-cinematic level, is the retrograde nature of the film's motivating concept, something which makes it a kind of Dr Strangelove completely bereft of irony.

Although set in the present day (2011 actually, as we see from one of the TV news reports) here we have the evil Russian empire masterminding the downfall of with-God-on-our-side America in what is effectively a throwback to the old reds-under-the-beds paranoid fantasy (in which Lee Harvey Oswald WAS a KGB plant). Hollywood regularly uses the imagined threat to home and hearth to justify all manner of gun happy heroics but the crudeness with which it is given form here beggars belief (it even manages to conjure up the threat of an Islamic jihad). As an action movie Salt is an unremarkable cavalcade of stunts, ideologically it is appalling.




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