Animadversion: Salt – Reviewed by Kamran Jawaid and Farheen Jawaid

the following is the unedited version of the review published in iMAGES on the 15th of August 2010 in iMAGES (Dawn Newspaper)

salt-poster

Salt–Cured Gun–Em–Up Action

By Mohammad Kamran Jawaid

As a routine man-on-the-run – or in this case, woman-on-the-run – spy-thriller, “Salt” features exhilarating Olympic level acrobatics and heavy-duty resilience from body-shocks and nose diving cabs.

Like Ms. Jolie’s other action flicks – "Wanted" and "Tomb Raider" movies – Salt is about cracked ribs, un-fatal bullet shots, bloody-faces and a feeble plot of presidential assassination, and hopefully World War III (if such a term does still exist).

In one of its way too many action sequences, Angelina Jolie, playing Evelyn Salt, the ostensible sleeper agent-in-the-middle-of-big-budget-pandemonium, jumps from one high speed cargo truck to the next on an overlapping motorway. Grappling, almost sliding-off, Ms. Jolie displays enviable upper-body strength.

In another sequence, she slides down an elevator shaft using her arms and legs as resistance. When she hits bottom there isn’t one scratch on her wrist, nor is there a torn in her panty-hose (if she was wearing any). Or was she wearing long trousers?! Whatever. Details in Salt are an unnecessary adornment.

According to her biography, subtly tossed towards us in the beginning on the movie, she is a skilled martial artist who works for the C.I.A. and possibly for an underground Russian terrorist cell run by extremist Orlov (Daniel Olbrychski) who secretly trains younglings to be super–secret assassins who will work within the U.S. government in the next twenty years (so future proof is Orlov’s plan, that everyone of these super children of revolution do, indeed, end up working for the C.I.A. and the military).

By the end of the movie, Ms. Jolie stops a bomb–threat aimed at Saudi Arabia and Mecca, activated by another surreptitious agent (for the trifling sake of mystery, whose identity I won’t tell; but if you look at Salt’s obvious casting, it shouldn’t be too hard to figure out).

Apart from Ms. Jolie, the two remaining actors with prominent speaking lines are Liev Schreiber and Chiwetel Ejiofor, both tactless (and often niggling) Salt hunters.

At times the screenplay by Kurt Wimmer (director of "Ultraviolet" and "Equilibrium", and the writer of "Law Abiding Citizen") shoots off a vague resemblence to another bland-actioner directed by Phillip Noyce – "The Saint". Mr. Noyce is a skilled veteran of bomb-em-up’s, beat-em-up’s and thrillers (and sometimes a combination of all three). Unlike his better geopolitical Jack Ryan movies ("Clear and Present Danger" and "Patriot Games"), Salt puts political ambiguities, the plot – and the way too many plot-holes – on the backburner and focuses on the job at hand. Putting Ms. Jolie out of underwear and then in shoot-her-down situations (there is no nudity by the way, the out of underwear bit was just a ruse to get away from a security camera in one scene).

As reasonless fisticuffs go, this is where Salt is engagingly good. Ms. Jolie runs from her desk job. Searches for her missing German husband (August Diehl) who specializes in Spider-study. Grabs people. Puts them down. Changes hair color. Puts more people down. Rescues her dog. Scales buildings with narrow footing spaces. Hops from car-to-car. Venom-toxin’s the Russian President. Puts on a man’s face (literary) and stops a thermonuclear bomb threat. But as a mystery it’s as vacant as Ms. Jolie’s cheek-fat.

Released by Columbia Pictures, "Salt" is Rated PG-13. It features lots of gun-trotting terrorist hunting and headaches for property insurance agents.

Second Opinion

By Farheen Jawaid

“Salt”, the new chariot for present day goddess Angelina Jolie, is an empty, yet highly energetic, formulaic action thriller. It has Jolie throwing punches, surviving audacious car chases and blowing people up with homemade grenade launchers that she conjures from office furniture and cleaning chemicals.

Salt was not a charmer from its trailers, but a dynamic start hikes interest in this average action flick. Evelyn Salt (Jolie) is a covert C.I.A. agent who may or may not be who she (or we) assumes herself to be. Is she a sleeper Russian spy, who a defected Russian agent reveals her as? Not that it matter much what the plot is. All reasoning goes out the window as Jolie goes on the run to save her loving husband – who got her out from a North Korean prison through diplomatic means at the beginning – and clear her name? Or maybe not.

Angelina Jolie, like a real megastar, knows how to fill the screen with her personality and her recent movies show that she owns the screen dominantly. On the other hand, Phillip Noyce, the director, holds the action with tight reins, which is a blessing because the plot is ice thin and the physical action drowns all the rest. The execution of action with kinetic and decipherable sequences makes Salt forgivable for its plot–holes. It is as enjoyable as a genre action thriller for a weekend dares to be. Why can’t people dare for more these days?

The published version can be found at:

http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/in-paper-magazine/images/animadversion-saltcured-gunemup-action-580

and

http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/in-paper-magazine/images/animadversion-second-opinion-580

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9 thoughts on “Animadversion: Salt – Reviewed by Kamran Jawaid and Farheen Jawaid”

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