(Don’t Pass on the) Salt Review

When I think of Angelina Jolie, I think Action Star (haven’t really seen too much of her dramatic work…) and yet she’s really not in that many good action movies. So what is Salt? Is Salt just another forgettable Actioner to add to Jolie’s already average action movies? Or is this it? Is this her big Action Goddess cementing role that people will remember her for?

Yes. To both.

The Story: Angelina Jolie plays Spy named Salt. Liev Schreiber plays her partner. When some Russian dude says Salt is some Russian Spy, she has to go on the run and be chased by her own friends… or are they?

One of the best things about this movie really is Jolie. She basically has to carry this entire thing, not that she doesn’t have an excellent supporting cast, because she does. But the movie is all about her, her emotional adventure with people she loves and people from her past. And her being the best spy in the world. She pulls it off with an amazing confidence lacking in most male action hero counterparts.

Right when the action starts, it really doesn’t let up. The whole movie is basically Salt getting into tight spot after tight spot and having to get her way out. But her character also does quite a bit of spy stuff too, sneaking and stealth. The best part about the action is it really embraces the PG13 aspect, not toning down the violence to make it fit PG13, but rather enhancing the spectacle of escape and precision of hand to hand combat.

While I do love a good Rated R action movie, I hate it when PG13 actioners just show a lot of what could be violent stuff, but watered down. Its important to know that action doesn’t have to be violent to be good, it just has to be different.

When Salt isn’t fighting good guys and badguys she is deciding what team she is on. The movie is filled with pretty standard plot twists that I can’t say I called EVERYTHING before it happened, but was never too surprised when it did. The movie is filled with a sense of urgency, everything has a deadline and that serves well to keep the pace up.

The biggest flaws come in what could have been. This movie could have been more. More spy talk would have been nice, the movie is very concerned with making sure you understand everything and really holds your hand through it. I like movies like Heat and Michael Clayton, where the characters have very technical heavy dialogue, but it makes it so much cooler because even if you don’t know what they are saying you believe they do. Instead of just saying “She is the best” over and over they could have used other ways to say it.

I would have liked to see more characterization by way of monologues or speeches about why instead of what. Most the characters just talk about what is happening next, but not why. It would have been so badass to see Salt get a good monologue about Patriotism and Honor on the Battlefield or something.

Also, Salt really has no equal. You never really think she is in danger. They build her up so much but don’t build up the badguys. So yes there are moments where you are like “How is she going to get out of this?” and the fun comes in seeing her pull it off, but action wise she is never really beaten down.

Overall I was really pleased, the movie moved fast and hit its beats really well. I would have liked to see more, there’s nothing really that cements it as a candidate for one of my action regulars. But hopefully other writers can use this as an example for a good action movie that paces really well and hits an action beat every 15 minutes.

Final Grade: B+

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