SALT - PG-13

Most action movies are episodic to varying degrees, but Salt particularly feels like multiple pieces with little connection between them. Angelina Jolie plays Evelyn Salt, a CIA operative on the run when a Russian defector claims she is a Russian mole sent to trigger another nuclear war. The first 40 minutes build this movie as a wrongful accusation story, like The Fugitive. It shows Salt improvising her way out of the CIA base in a fun, if far-fetched, set of sequences. The movie also includes a couple moments where Salt takes a breath or assesses the situation, clearly intending to build sympathy for her. This fretful atmosphere is ruined by jarring plot twists that occur around the halfway mark. From that point, the movie sloppily throws in scene after scene of Salt doing various tasks, aiming to make us question whether she is on the American side or the Russian side.

Salt does such a clumsy job establishing its title character that the mystery of her loyalty feels completely improvisational. There is almost no foreshadowing prior to each change, and there is usually nothing after the change to suggest another one is coming. Much of this is a timing issue. For example, the first details of the Russian terrorist plan appear at the same time that the accusation towards Salt does, and both events happen in the first 15 minutes. We have no time to meet Salt and to percept clues in her personality that may suggest a shadier dimension. Therefore, when she does seem to act on behalf of Russia, it feels like a sudden about-face rather than the validation of our suspicion. Salt would work better if it took the time to build the character’s mystery. Instead, it makes her alternate two roles back and forth in a choppy and indecisive fashion.


Christopher Nolan's cerebral science-fiction thriller Inception is an absolute dream by two accounts. First, it is a godsend to every mainstream movie fan deprived of anything truly involving this summer (aside from Toy Story 3). Second, it mirrors our subconscious apparitions by being an entrancing reverie as you watch it and a confounding puzzle when pondered in retrospect. In his first film since the megahit The Dark Knight, Nolan has intricately shaped an adventure more marvelous and mystifying than practically every other movie this year has seen so far.


The exclamation of predictability can be heard loud and clear within the first five minutes of Despicable Me, the new animated feature from Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment. The opening sequence uses the old joke of somebody trying to catch an object and saying, “I got it!” just before he or she misses the target. At the screening I attended, a child anticipated the joke and loudly said, “I don’t got it!” before the character could (the character did not say that line, giving the routine a bit of moot surprise). The child did not say anything else the rest of the movie, which surprises me considering how much else in Despicable Me is recycled material. The film is as hackneyed as many other recent computer-animated features, though a few elements save it from being truly disposable.


I must confess that I have missed out on chances to really vent about a remake or recreation of a story I like. The Star Wars prequels began when I was only nine, and my taste in film was not mature enough at the time to see how bad they were. Likewise, I had only seen the original versions of The Karate Kid and A Nightmare on Elm Street once before reviewing the remakes, so my understanding of those movies was informed yet rudimentary. The Last Airbender, director M. Night Shyamalan’s adaptation of the Nickelodeon series Avatar: The Last Airbender, has now granted me an irresistible opportunity. Shyamalan’s movie is such a hollow and anemic version of that superb show that the fan in me cannot wait to tell you how slipshod this product is.