Sunday, July 25, 2010

"Salt" (2010) - Movie Review

“Salt” goes back to the books of making a classic popcorn thriller. The problem is I have outgrown popcorn thriller, at least the one “Salt” reaches out for. I had a similar reaction to “The Bourne Identity” but then I went to seek it again after seeing the franchise getting the fresh and dedicated outlook from Paul Greengrass. It appeared to be the same but the love for the next two films made it something else. “Salt” is supposed to create a female spy franchise which it most probably will and I would like to see this as Bourne grew up on me.

If it can be anyone else, there cannot be much of a solid choice than Angelina Jolie. She has a vigour grown much sharper and wiser. Here she is a CIA agent with a loving husband Mike (August Diehl) who went to great extent for a spy exchange when she got captured in North Korea. When a not so known actor plays Jolie’s husband that should tell you something. He is not going to have a lovely future in this film. But that is secondary information. The primary is that Evelyn Salt is chased crazily for two days from Washington, DC to New York. Reason being a Russian defector Orlov (Daniel Olbrychski) says that a Russian spy trained from childhood has been planted in CIA to complete a mission in New York. That is to kill Russian President and then do some for stirring up nuclear war and henceforth destruction of the United States of America. Yawn.

But no you cannot yawn because you might miss the jab, punch, jump and climbs of Jolie with stunts that were made in Hollywood to create time moved beyond itself. There is no stopping after that. Phillip Noyce is good in making character studies as in “Catch a Fire” and “The Quiet American” and here he has gone a wiser Michael Bay if you catch my drift. He got hired as how Paul Greengrass came in for the Bourne series and it makes sense.

Liev Schreiver and Chiwetel Ejiofor joins the fun as being the trusted friend/colleague Ted Winter and that irritating hunting man of Salt Peabody respectively. Both of them have the face and deception to be on the other side of this game but we do not care as we do not know whose side Salt really is. Salt once being said as this killer Russian spy appears to be startled of this information and goes back to her apartment in search of her husband or maybe to collect her weapons. Then she heads to New York and begins to plan out the mission. But she also denied strongly in Jolie way that she is being setup. This ambiguity takes away the necessity to be right and wrong. On one side she might really be the Russian spy or she might doing something else as a double agent. No clue and we have other things to worry, like how she is going to escape out of a completely locked CIA building or how she would jump off the truck, buses and most of the vehicles in the busy Washington DC traffic to lose the tail.

Noyce goes back to the basics and Jolie goes on full fledged to support the fireworks. I have always said that writing a review for a film I despised or loved is the easy than the ones which are moderate in kindling reactions. “Salt” is one such. It has all the firepower and adrenaline for a packed up action film but lacks the novelty expected in coming days of action thriller.

Angelina Jolie succeeded Tom Cruise for this script and that says something about this film. Cruise with the right mind went off the project while Jolie adds the power it needs. Even behind those lovely lines of smile, Jolie cannot control her dominative power over screen and it is welcomed in a script like this by Kurt Wimmer.

Sure “Salt” sets out straight for it target and achieves it. It has a thorough bee line to its plot and goes for it without hesitation. The predictability is out there but then again we do not know which side this character is going to side and that keeps a wee bit of suspense. Take away that tiny detail along with Jolie and you have a razor thin script with nothing but senseless stunts which would keep our interest for half an hour. Those two adds the necessary ammunition and it keeps on firing.


kari_the_sin said...

Hmm, your reviews have become more on the wall emotions..with a few comments and final statement which conveys a very honey coated sugary sataire which doesn't add up much.
Would suggest you to increase the depth in your reviews rather than a very commercial approach.. Rest is fine!
Your well wisher!!

Ashok said...

Whoa! That is some strong accusations Karthik (It is you indeed Karthik?) ! :-) I am not sure which part or specific reviews you are talking about which made you think that I am trying to please a crowd :-). But your point definitely has been noted and as I have always said, I try to be honest to the emotions/opinions I went through while watching a film. Sometimes I am undecided which might reflect otherwise as an indecision which is true to the feeling. I hope I have not subconsciously bought into the concept of "commercialism" which will be the last thing I would like to do/be. Thanks for reminding me that and I will keep continuing what I am doing with an extra vigilance. Please keep providing your feedback.

kari_the_sin said...

Hi Ashok,
Don't be offended by comments.
There are a lot of areas where you should probably think to improve.
I would be the first to see you as a professional reviewer rather than a comercial off the shelf reviewer who adds slap stick comments which would probably please a specific segment and most of them in general.

There are a few points to watch out here:
1) Contradiction of statements between the begining , middle and the end of the review.
Sometimes this helps if it from a bad viewpoint moving towards a better one. But most of the time it back fires as it makes the reader feel that the reviewer is rather confused and not firm about his or her opinion.

2) Always take a firm standpoint, its your opinion afterall!

3) As this is a film , cinema or movie review as this blog goes.. try to bring out some areas in the film industry which would enhance your viewpoint with a touch of professionalism.. probably should do more homework :) for example talk about lighting, cinematography, emotions, strength of the main character etc whereever possible to give the review a more depth and width.
This could help you in analysing all departments of the industry and their contribution to a particular movie and how well did they do...

I think you know all about what i have said, but you seem to ignore everything and seem to be in some kind of a hurry and post your most immediate reflections and thoughts rather than analysing them..
Yes, i understand its your blog, you have the right to do it,whatever way you want the review to look like, but since you would also want somebody to read it , my opinion is take sometime out, reflect upon it and do some justice to it!

kari_the_sin said...

"Sure “Salt” sets out straight for it target and achieves it. It has a thorough bee line to its plot and goes for it without hesitation." This is a very commercial statement. If you have watched movie reviews on star tv or sun tv... the tone would always be the same.. like going out at its target and achieving it...
This really made me feel you have started taking notes from some other review or something..or probably being a good guy not bringing out any faults even though there where many areas where the movie had come short of beyond a very minimum bare expectations.
Lets face it!!
The lighting was very poor.. The stunts were cheap and not out of the box for a big budget film or atleast for angie to be in there!!

She is shown as thin and very weak and fragile, granted she was tortured before, but a lady taking on 5 men on face to face, hand to hand combat is something unbelievable after she was tortured in a enemy camp..I started getting the feeling that hollywood has started copying bollywood or tollywood perhaps..

I felt this movie could have been better in many ways..
Anyways these are my opinion and mine alone..
No hard feelings..mate!!

Hey ashok...when are you getting married?? hope your new home is keeping you comfortable!!
you know my mail id...
Be in touch.

Ashok said...

Thanks for taking the time to read out and pen down your thoughts on my reviews Karthik. I do appreciate it.

(1) I do think I am in a hurry which I certainly should slow down. The point has been noted.

(2) Contradictions in the review - It depends on the film and sometimes it happens so that I go through a string of opinions while I run it back in my mind.

(3) Taking a strong opinion - I think I do take most strong stands whenever possible and whenever I felt it. If I liked and not loved or disliked but not hate, I have mentioned so.

(4) Photography, lighting, technical details - I followed a format to discuss about this but now a days unless I am super impressed by it, I do not mention it or if it is too bad, then I go ahead and point it out.

(5) Depth of characters - This I take it personally Karthik because this is something I concentrate in my reviews and hope to go in deep even if it takes a long long paragraph. I have to disagree vehemently on this one.

(6) Finally, I never write to please a segment. I write for myself and if some one like you points out the flaws and suggest something, I take it depending on my taste and preference :-). This is a variable while I take some of your comments, I cannot agree on all of it.

Regarding your "Salt" criticism, I do agree that sometimes it happens to use the line which gets used in regular reviews. I am a regular reviewer too :-). And I stand behind that line even if it sounds recycled becayse "Salt" does that and I think it explains that.

Anyways, I am glad you have been reading my reviews to provide detailed comments. Please do post your comments on the films and what you felt to have healthy discussions.