VOD Spotlight: Angelina Jolie shakes up “Salt”

By Karl J. Paloucek

Ah, the good old days of the Cold War. Back then, we knew who our enemies were. Or did we? And who ever said it was over? Director Phillip Noyce’s Salt plays a shell game with the notions of loyalty, truth and identity against a backdrop of international intrigue.

Evelyn Salt (Angelina Jolie) is a CIA operative with a past. How much of a past even the CIA doesn’t know until one day a defecting Russian spy identifies her, during interrogation, as one of their own. After a spectacular escape, she goes on the run, protesting her innocence and insisting on contacting her husband, a renowned arachnologist. But her defiance only elevates the suspicion of her superiors, and before long, no one is sure who she is, what her intentions are or what master she serves.

Brad Pitt and anyone else in love with Jolie’s screen-ready looks be warned: Jolie spends a fair amount of screen time looking bruised, bloodied and swollen in this film. It’s no wonder, given the furious action sequences she forces her way through and the hyper-real feats she performs. (The scene in which she effectively builds a bazooka out of a table leg, office chair and a few chemicals from a first-aid kit is priceless, even if it is pretty MacGyver-worthy.) But this is a thriller with no apologies to her looks or the audience, and what we’re watching is the creation of an antihero cast from the same die as Jason Bourne from the Bourne series, or even Dark Knight-era Batman.

Salt gives some of the James Bond films a run for their money in the impossible stunts department, like when Salt forces the police SUV she’s in over the side of a suspended highway and not only walks away in defiance of known laws of physics, but does so unnoticed. It does take away from the credibility, though it’s still fun enough to watch. But as a story, Salt is really about the cat-and-mouse plot turns and keeping the audience from guessing the denouement. Salt is driven to succeed in her mission, but not knowing what, ultimately, that mission is makes for game-worthy speculation that carries on right up until the end.

“Salt” is now showing on Video On Demand. Check your cable system for availability.


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