In 2007, Tom Cruise was approached to play the lead in ‘Salt‘, but apparently turned it down, concerned it was too close to his Ethan Hunt persona. I looked that fact up online after having watched ‘Salt’ thinking “This doesn’t half seem like a Mission Impossible movie”. Not that it’s a bad thing, but I can see why Cruise thought that.
Angelina Jolie plays Evelyn Salt, a CIA operative, who after being captured and tortured in North Korea, has decided to give up the field work, and take on a CIA desk job. Just as she’s about to leave to spend her anniversary with her arachnologist (thats a guy that studies spiders) husband (german actor August Diehl), Salt and her collegue Ted Winter (Liev Schreiber), get a ‘walk in’ claiming to be a Russian spy called Orlov (Daniel Olbrychski) wanting to defect. During Salt’s interrogation of Orlov he tells a story of highly trained and indoctrinated Russian spy’s embedded into America as children in preparation for ‘Day X’. A day which who start a series of events to bring down the USA. Orlov claims this event will be kick started using the assassination of Russia’s own president by one of these Day X sleeper agents… an agent called Evelyn Salt. Salt of course claims its a set up, and Winter seems to believe her. US Counter-intelligence agent Peabody (Serenity’s Chiwetel Ejiofor), is not so sure… What then follows is a series of high octane chase sequences, as Salt escapes the CIA building, believing her husband to be in danger from the people ‘setting her up’… Or maybe she wants to complete her mission to kill the Russian president.
Director Phillip Noyce (Patriot Games, The Bone Collector) keeps the action moving at a fair old pace, and while some of the story is a little over the top (i mean russian sleeper agents in the US… like that’s ever going to happen… ;)), none of it ever goes so far up the (what i refer to as) ‘McG scale of realism’, to break my willing suspension of disbelief.
To be fair, Salt isn’t just like Mission Impossible. It’s actually more an ice cream sunday of Mission Impossible and Minority Report, with a little of the Manchurian Candidate and Jason Bourne sprinkled on top. As I said earlier, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Jolie makes a perfectly decent lead, producing Lara Coft-esque kick ass moves, and blowing things up with a style and grace only she could pull off. The set up may seem little derivative at first, but it twists and turns nicely, and screen writer Kurt Wimmer has done a good job of keeping you guessing the true nature of all the characters. I’m trying to avoid any major spoilers in this review, so I’ll just say it’s a script that aims to try something new. Even if it doesn’t doesn’t quite pull off, I applaud it for trying.
Salt might not have quite reaches the heights it was aiming for, but it’s still a perfectly solid action movie, and if it makes it into the franchise they are some blatantly aiming for, i could quite happily watch to see where they take it next.
Blu-ray & DVD Special Features include – The Ultimate Female Action Hero, Spy Disguises: The Looks of Evelyn Salt, Radio Interview and Audio Commentary with Director Phillip Noyc. The Blu-ray also contains exclusives such as – Salt Declassification – An Undercover Look at the Secrets of Making SALT, The Real Agents Featurette, The Modern Master of the Political Thriller: Phillip Noyce, False Identity: Creating the New Reality, Spy Cam Picture in Picture Track, and Movie IQ.