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.


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