Throwing stuff at the internet to see what sticks
Monday, July 26, 2010 M. Ovie Reviews: Salt
When Trash is interested in a new movie, she often sends me instead of going herself. She's been wanting me to see Salt ever since she saw the trailer online months ago. And after spending Sunday replacing another window in our house and getting overheated and dehydrated, I really wanted an ICEE. I will say that the ICEE was very good.
Alas, Salt is crap. It's somewhat indicative of what a collection of missed opportunities it is that the Vice President is named Oates and yet the POTUS is not named Hall, but that's only part of what goes wrong. It's certainly not the fault of the three leads, who labor heroically but vainly. Angelina Jolie certainly commits to the action-star bit, and Chiwetel Ejiofor's fake American accent is quite convincing (although he looks so dorky when running that I think the people lobbying for him to be Bond are going to have to regroup big time), and Liev Schreiber is his usual understated self. And I can't argue with most of the fight scenes, because it's not a good idea to argue with fight scenes in general.
Unfortunately it's all in the service of a story that exists simply to support twists and reversals and surprises, and that not very well. At various points, characters are always either doing stuff they wouldn't do if they really knew stuff they're supposed to know early on, or doing stuff they would only do if they knew stuff they don't know until later. I heard someone on the radio say that this movie is like watching every episode of 24 at once, and he wasn't far off. But 24 at least has a center, and while we may not always agree with Jack Bauer's motivations or methods, we can at least understand them. Whereas with Evelyn Salt, how are we to root for or even against a protagonist when we don't get what she's doing or why she's doing it? I mean, yes, we get that she wants to save her husband, but why? He's ugly and creepy and he plays with spiders. Sure, he saves her from a North Korean prison in the first scene, but marrying him doesn't seem like that much of a step up. Seems like a year of being his wife should more than discharge her obligation to him.
I'm disappointed in director Philip Noyce, who seems to have descended into self-parody with all the scenes of Very Serious People typing on keyboards and talking on telephones and swiping key cards and shit while Triple-Agent Barbie runs around doing her thing. There is a pretty good chase scene at the beginning, which is an effective demonstration of how hard it can be to get away from trained, motivated law enforcement people who really want to catch you. But since it later develops that it's much easier to do other things, like, say, get into one of the most secure spots in the world, it's kind of a wash.
After I got home, I told Trash about the movie. She's the opposite of me where spoilers are concerned. In fact, she not only wants to know what happens in a movie before she sees it, she often wants to know what happens so she doesn't have to see it. As I was recounting all of the increasingly ridiculous events in Salt, she became increasingly skeptical. "That didn't happen," she kept saying. That, and she kept asking about the stuff that really interests her about Angelina Jolie, namely all of her kids. So in the middle of telling Trash about one scene or another where Salt lays waste to her pursuers while modeling a different chic look, I had to keep remembering to add in stuff like, "and then she goes and picks up all of her kids and they go have pizza and ice cream." I hope the DVD includes those deleted scenes or she's going to be disappointed.
Not as disappointed as I was, though. My eyes rolled at the same time as the credits. And my ICEE cup was empty. posted by M. Giant 7:30 PM 2 comments
I’m hoping that we’ll end up with a slew of prototyped ideas and a bunch of happy people. I’m sure there’ll be a lot more hard work until we can turn those embryonic proofs of concept into living