Saw the movie Salt yesterday with some friends. I liked it–it actually surprised me a bit with a couple of twists in the plot. Not a lot, but a bit, which is saying something. The incomparable Angelina Jolie–there really isn’t anyone like her in the film industry–is a spy or not a spy or something. You’ll have to see it to figure it out. The movie is characterized by good fight scenes, some quite handy fire arms usage and even a few moderate explosives along with hair color changes and one disguise a la Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible. The hairstyle and I’m-leveling-my-eyes-at-you-to-intimidate-you stare given by Jolie’s character reminded me of Mila Jovovich in Ultraviolet. The story is a sort of Cold War Revival with sleeper cell Russian terrorists. The concept is a bit unsettling not to mention that terrorism is, after all, the new Freddie Kruger of the movie industry.
Jolie impresses me because she is not afraid to look ugly in a film when the story calls for it. A scene early on has her beat up badly, one eye swollen shut altogether. I believe that takes confidence for someone whose vocation is largely dependent upon their physical beauty to be willing to be seen in a far less than beautiful way. I am also, inexplicably, fond of Liev Schreiber (Sphere, Kate and Leopold, The Painted Veil, Repo Men. X Men: Wolverine) and enjoyed his performance in this film, too.
Now, here’s my one problem with this movie. This is not a superhero, sci-fi movie (love those!) so the characters in the film are not suppose to be super-human in some way. Highly trained, expert, etc of course, but nothing related to super powers. So, why do we have Jolie doing far more than any other woman of her size and strength could even dream of doing? Yeah, I know, it’s fiction. But here’s the thing: male action movie actors most often look like the could do the things their characters do, so why don’t females? They don’t necessarily have to be Marion Jones, Mia Hamm or Jackie Joyner Kersee to be believable (though it wouldn’t hurt), but Jolie looks like her rail thin arms and legs could just be snapped in two with one of those hard kicks she gives. Women like Angela Bassett or Charlize Theron are far more convincing in these kinds of roles because they do not appear to be so physically fragile on screen. Psychologically and emotionally fragile is far from the impression that Angelina Jolie gives, but physically she does not have a presence that makes a number of the things she does believable.
All in all, a good Summer movie to see especially if you like action movies with a bit more complexity to them.
[I am proud of myself for not saying it was not as good as Inception, since everyone else seems to be saying that. It’s an unfair comparison–they are totally different kinds of movies]