Salt

Salt

2010, PG-13, 100 min. Directed by Phillip Noyce. Starring Angelina Jolie, Liev Schreiber, Chiwetel Ejiofor.

REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., July 23, 2010

Is it life imitating art or the other way around? Ultimately, it doesn't matter: Salt reboots the cinematic cloaks and daggers of the Cold War espionage thriller in exactly the same way as the recent, real-life Russian spy case reminded us all that, 19 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, there are still plenty of spies waiting to come in from the cold. Noyce's film – more Ian Fleming than John le Carré – is adult popcorn fun, lightweight but durable, with Jolie trading up from her tomb-raiding Lara Croft days for a more complex but equally seductive blend of parkour-based action (one sequence, designed by stunt master Simon Crane, has Jolie's renegade CIA agent leapfrogging from the roofs of speeding tractor trailers; it rivals anything Daniel Craig's yet done as James Bond). Jolie's titular veteran agent, blond and bee-stung, takes it on the lam when a cancerous Russian defector (Daniel Olbrychski) drops by CIA headquarters and outs her as a deep-planted Soviet mole. Initially backed by her supportive if increasingly suspicious superior (Schreiber), the FBI and CIA are forced by circumstance to collude in the pursuit of this sudden quarry in their midst. That's Salt's most cunning bit of reel world fictionalizing, really. The rest of the film, breathlessly paced though it is, plays like a nostalgic revision of the original The Manchurian Candidate meets The Boys From Brazil, hopped up on video-gamer steroids. Which, frankly, is a downright kickass premise. Jolie manages to infuse the character of Evelyn Salt with multiple shades of gray – "is she or isn't she?" multiplied by the power of contemporary terror paranoia – and the script by Kurt Wimmer (The Thomas Crown Affair) is convoluted enough to evoke the labyrinthine corridors of Langley-based power while never sacrificing action for anything so dreary as post-Cold War polemics. It's nail-biting good fun, sporting some très haute couture nails.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Salt
Tastes Off to Me
Tastes Off to Me
Why are the critics giving Salt a pass?

Kimberley Jones, July 27, 2010

More Phillip Noyce Films
The Giver
This movie based on a Newbery Award-winning novel presents teens in a dystopic society that's a manmade invention born of good intentions.

Marjorie Baumgarten, Aug. 15, 2014

Catch a Fire
Phillip Noyce explores the havoc and repercussions caused by white interlopers toward indigenous peoples in this straightforward account of real-life black South African activist Patrick Chamusso and the white Boer police agent, who hunts him.

Marc Savlov, Oct. 27, 2006

More by Marc Savlov
Possessor Uncut
Identity melts in this psychotropic assassination brainblender

Oct. 2, 2020

Shortcut
Mangled Italian creature feature should be even shorter

Sept. 25, 2020

KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

Salt, Phillip Noyce, Angelina Jolie, Liev Schreiber, Chiwetel Ejiofor

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle