Salt (2010)

Salt is a 2010 thriller starring Angelina Jolie as Evelyn Salt. Salt is a character accused of being a Russian sleeper agent, and ultimately ends up going on the run, instead of staying around to answer questions from the CIA. Her running away essentially sets up the majority of the film’s story, always bringing into question which side Salt is actually on. Directed by Phillip Noyce, Salt is a film very reminiscent of the Bourne movies, but doesn’t quite live up to those that inspired it.

That’s not to say that Salt isn’t a good film, it’s just that it can’t live up to the action, characters or thrilling scenes that the Bourne films feature. Salt is still an entertaining film, it just doesn’t quite live up to the aforementioned films. There are two main differences between the films. The first is in the way that they are shot. The Bourne trilogy had a slightly nauseating way of filming. Most of the camerawork in those film is done in a way that attempts to make you feel like you are there with the characters. This effect is done through the camera being really shaky, and ultimately hurts the film’s action scenes. Salt doesn’t do this. Instead, it uses a rigid filming technique for the majority, allowing you to see what is always going on. The other difference between the films is the sex of the main character. Salt relies almost entirely on its female lead to carry it, while the Bourne films end up being built around a male lead.

Angelina Jolie plays the lead, and does a good job as Evelyn Salt. The rest of the characters are more or less there solely for her to play off, so they end up doing their job as well. The problem with the acting is the fact that Jolie more or less acts without emotion for the majority of the film. This may be so that she can stay morally ambiguous throughout, but leads to you not really caring about her. Despite the fact that Salt was re-written once the sex of the lead changed, it appears that the writers forgot that people should not be able to beat up people who are twice their size in a fist fight, and they especially should not be able to do this with much frequency. Salt manages to take out far more large muscular men than she should, and this takes away from the believability that the film tries to use. Overlooking that, Salt‘s action scenes still end up being the best part.

One thing that Salt can be praised for is the fact that it never gets boring. In fact, the pace of the film almost becomes detrimental for how fast paced it ends up being. There is hardly ever a break in the action, and this does kind of lead to a problem when it comes to the characters. They don’t really get a chance to develop. With that said, the action keeps the film entertaining. Without its brisk pace, Salt might get boring, and when the film isn’t great to begin with, it can’t risk boring its audience. I believe the right move was made in keeping the film as action packed as possible.

If all you are looking for is a solid action film, with almost no character development or story, then Salt will pretty much fit the bill for you.

Despite the quick pace, Salt does end up being less of a thriller, and more of an action film by the end. This may be more or less due to the fact that none of the characters really make themselves likable, but may also be due to the fact that the story is fairly predictable, and never really comes close to mattering. As with the supporting cast, the story takes a back seat to Evelyn Salt. It’s basically only there to give her a reason to go from place to place, as well as pull off crazy stunts. It connects them, but doesn’t give you a reason to care for Salt as a character, or anything that she does.

Salt is a film that is almost entirely action based. Whether or not that is a good thing really depends on what you want from it. If all you are looking for is a solid action film, with almost no character development or story, then Salt will pretty much fit the bill for you. If you want an action film that has deep characters and an interesting story, you might want to look elsewhere. As action-packed and entertaining as Salt is, it’s fairly forgettable after it ends. It won’t stay with you, as the characters give you practically no reason to care about them. It’s basically just a film to watch to give you some cheap thrills in the moment, and is also one you’ll forget about a few minutes later. It isn’t bad, just not all that impressive, and not memorable in the least.

Conclusion: Salt is a decent Bourne knockoff, but nothing more.

Recommendation: If you want a female-led Bourne film, this is basically that. If the sex of the lead doesn’t matter, just go rewatch one of the first Bourne movies.

Rating: ***

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