23 July 2010

Salt: a new female kick ass agent franchise is Bourne

The trailers before the movie

The Town: again. Like Affleck and Hamm and I'm always interested in films about Southies but the trailer gives too much away so I will skip it.

The Social Network: again. Can I say I hate Zuckerberg almost as much as I hate Nazis? No, I guess not. Nazis killed 6 millions of Jews. Zuckerberg is only mildly damaging and exposing 500 million souls. Anyway, I can tell this film is just going to be an orgasmic experience for me. But don't you just love how they used Radiohead's Creep as a soundtrack to the trailer? CANNOT WAIT!!!!

The TRON Legacy: Stupid sequel title. Without betraying the look of the original, the art/FX departments seem to have spruced things up with imagery reminiscent of Lady Gaga videos. Intriguing.

The main feature

The low down, no spoilers: I'm going to recommend this as a leave-your-brain-at-home action movie. Leave-your-brain-at-home because a good action movie need not have so many holes in it as Salt does. 

If you'd rather stay home this weekend and haven't seen the Matt Damon franchise yet, rent The Bourne Identity followed by The Bourne Supremacy instead. If you've seen the first two Bourne films and don't mind something in the same vein, go see Salt.

Also, the film is somewhat derivative of the 1987 film No Way Out and if you remember the ending, Salt isn't going to surprise you. 

And, yes, as an action film, Inception is superior.

SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS! This is for those who've seen the movie already or really don't care about knowing what happens.

First of all, I'd like to congratulate the diminutive K-9 (who isn't listed on imdb and I can't even remember his name as a character, my apologies) who was able to land a part in a film where he isn't killed by a stalker in a thriller or horror film or in a film where his arc goes nowhere. Ok, his arc goes nowhere here except the pooch gets a scene in which his considerate guardian (Evelyn Salt herself) takes him to the neighbours to be looked after whilst she away. Hold up your paws high and sing "We shall overcome, We shall overcome...". This is an improvement. Actor of African descent Chiwetel Ejiofor isn't so lucky and again winds up being cast as a secondary character when he is in fact leading man material. When the deal with Tom Cruise as Salt fell through did anybody think of Ejiofor? Low box office draw? That's what spending other people's money is for: taking chances.

On my way to the theatre, I was thinking about how Jolie leaves me cold as an actress, a pattern she succeeded in reinforcing today. Yes, it's true, she's supposed to be a cold-blooded killer, only this franchise reminded me of Bourne and Matt Damon made me care about his character. That made for a better franchise because I didn't want harm to come to him. Don't get me wrong, on the whole, Jolie does a good job. The stunts are spectacular although part of the problem is that the movie instructs us from the get-go to see Salt as utterly invincible. I never once thought she was in real danger. For what it's worth, the Bourne invincibility got old by the time the third instalment rolled in.

We are meant to get our jollies in witnessing how ingenuous she is at using her invincibility. Salt has her style. Of course, she knows kung-fu like all action heroes but her specialty is to jump off moving vehicles onto ground, onto the ledge of a building, the ledges of an elevator shaft, into the sea (with a lacerated face — ouch!), and onto other moving vehicles. 

Perhaps we were meant to feel a distance with Salt, seeing as she's the bad guy. Except we know from the beginning that she isn't. It's just not how Hollywood movies work. The truly bad guys are never the heroes and they don't have their dogs babysat. Since I knew it wouldn't last, I enjoyed watching Evelyn Salt being bad until she became good.

After she has "assassinated" the Russian president who is speaking in NYC at the funeral of the U.S. vice-president, there's a nice shot of Salt, all Siberian glamour with furs and cashmere, on a ferry retreating away from the Statue of Liberty. Is she going back to her home in Russia where she was switched in order to assume the identity of an American girl and infiltrate American society? No, she's off to a barge where a dozen KGB agents are waiting for her only to execute her husband before her eyes. She wasn't supposed to get married, you see. Salt maimed and perhaps killed dozens only to get him back. Now, she has nothing to lose. The baddies are worst than her and that makes her good. We know Salt has empathy, German arachnologists, dogs, one government agent. Yet, the flashbacks to her relationship and love for her husband failed to grab me.

The action scenes are fun if ludicrous and the head of the make-up department should win an Oscar just for one scene in which Jolie is disguised as a male NATO envoy. 

I'm not sure whether I'm comforted or annoyed by yet another script that contorts itself to make Soviet Russia relevant and a real threat to the world of action movies. On the one hand, it's like wearing old slippers, on the other, this Soviet nonsense should have ended with The Russia House. Oh, cold war, quand tu nous tiens...

Screenwriter Kurt Wimmer can't do jokes although I'm not sure he even tries. The script doesn't really up the ante action wise. The actions scenes don't have the newness of The Bourne Identity or The Matrix when released. Or the impact of Inception for that matter. There is not one moment of levity. 


Liev Schreiber is as amazing as ever as Salt's co-worker, co-hunter and co-..., as soon as the film started and a so-called defector accused Salt of being a Russian agent, I thought of No Way Out and suspected Schreiber (who plays Ted Winter and Tarkovsky — nice thought) right away.

I liked that the Secret Service use the code word Geronimo for the President.

No comments:

Post a Comment