x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Salt

The Angelina Jolie film Salt is more a vehicle for the actress than a high-octane action thriller.

Angelina Jolie stars as Evelyn Salt, a CIA agent and a Russian double agent in the action thriller Salt.
Angelina Jolie stars as Evelyn Salt, a CIA agent and a Russian double agent in the action thriller Salt.

Salt

Director: Phillip Noyce

Starring: Angelina Jolie, Liev Schreiber, Chiwetel Ejiofor

Timing your jump off a bridge perfectly so that you land with relative ease on the back of a lorry? Falling off the front of said lorry - but, and this is the important bit, without having one perfect little hair fall out of place - before going on to steal some poor commuter's motorbike and revving off into the distance? All in a day's work for the glamorous CIA agent Evelyn Salt (Angelina Jolie), who manages to evade a plethora of government agents after being accused of being a Russian spy during a routine day at the office.

This is not the first time Salt has found herself in less-than-favourable circumstances, however; the first scene in the movie shows the agent being tortured in North Korea. Lucky for her, thanks to the persistence of her German boyfriend, Mike, the CIA intervene to get her out.

A few years later, and things are looking great for Salt. And just so we get the full extent of how lovely life is for our plucky heroine before she is branded a double agent - whose goal is to assassinate the Russian president, who is in town to be a pallbearer at the funeral of the US vice president - we see her at home with her German husband, who also happens to be a world famous arachnologist (which comes in handy later on).

Later on that evening, making her way out of the office to celebrate her wedding anniversary, things quickly go from good to very, very, bad when Salt and her superior, Ted Winter (Liev Schreiber) are called back to interrogate a man claiming to be a Russian defector.

It's at this point that the movie takes a turn for the worst. Turns out those Russians have a lot of plans in the works; most of which involve bringing America to its knees. And their methods of doing so? According to Vassily Orlov, the man being questioned, by training select groups of children for years and brainwashing them into becoming top Russian spies; going on to help them to infiltrate American society before ordering them to kill high-profile figures. Which, as it turns out, is not as hard as you might think, given the number of these so-called spies who make themselves known throughout the course of the movie.

You want to know who really killed JFK? Not, according to Orlov, Lee Harvey Oswald, but one of his Russian drones who bore a resemblance to the American. And the next target on Orlov's list? None other than his own president, whose assassination would help kick-start a war between the US and the rest of the world.

As if this barrage of highly implausible information wasn't enough for one scene, Orlov has one more juicy tidbitto share; that Salt, in all her nymph-like glory (the studio make-up department certainly worked for their money on this production), is the double agent charged with carrying out the task.

This might have provoked more of a reaction had it not been shown to us in the trailer; but even so, is handled in such an off-hand manner that the reveal ends up coming across as a weak plot filler as opposed to the main point of the story. Thus begins a chase across the city and a race against time as Salt goes off in search of her husband and, "the truth".

Don't worry, there are another couple of big twists further down the line, each far less obvious than the first, but even they fail to cause as much of a fuss as the director, Phillip Noyce, evidently believed they would.

Support comes from the likes of Schreiber and Chiwetel Ejiofor (as William Peabody, the counterintelligence agent intent on taking Salt down) but this is mainly a vehicle for Jolie and her impossibly bee-stung lips.

For a movie marketed as a high-octane thriller, Salt is, although not a complete loss, terribly blah. Furthermore, to say this action thriller is ludicrous would be like saying that this year's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was a bit of a shame.