Spying, Lying, & Timing: Brief Thoughts on SALT 

“[Salt] does all the things I can’t stand in bad movies, and does them in a good one . . .  It’s gloriously absurd.” (Roger Ebert, in his review of Salt)

I don’t ask much from action movies. (Increasingly, I’m finding that I don’t ask much from movies in general. What does this say about me? That I’m becoming a more forgiving person, at least when it comes to my media consumption? Or that I’m losing my critical edge?) Mostly I need coherent choreography during chase or fight scenes. I’m happy to report that what Salt lacked in narrative coherence, it made up for in spatial coherence! This movie was tons of fun.

Angelina Jolie, who I usually can’t stand, embodied the title role very well. She kicked ass and took names (and also, identities). While the relationship with her husband (who had special access to North Korea because he was an arachnologist . . . because this movie loves sense) was poorly written (their first meeting, in what was referred to as a “museum,” but what could only have been a “museum” of actual, vegetative plants, cracked me up), I still (somehow) cared about this woman’s personal life. I always care for the spies in spy movies. I can’t bear the idea of having my identity completely erased and replaced, of leading a fraudulent, emotionally-empty existence. (No matter how fun-seeming and bad-ass that fraudulent and emotionally-empty existence may appear to be.) It’s really a tragic role.

Other things that made this movie enjoyable: the POTUS, who was the most dad-looking POTUS in cinema history, and who always meant business, even when he was being shot at. (“If that shooter is working for Russia, I’m going to have to take diplomatic steps to blah blah blah.” Chill, POTUS.) Also, when Salt had to disguise herself as a man to get into the White House. Because you can’t make a movie about a strong-willed, ass-kicking woman without dressing her up like a dude. Sends off the wrong kind of message. Also, there was a bar called “Jugs & Strokers.” Also, did anyone else get the impression that the opening title card “Present Day: Washington, D.C.” was put in in post, to piggyback off the excitement of the recent Russian spy-ring bust? Also, someone was killed, miraculously, with a pair of handcuffs. Also, there was a scene where Salt and another spy spoke to each other through a pane of glass, which, at the right angle, bore their own reflection, and you were all, “Whoa. This movie is almost deep.”

The very obvious room left for a sequel at the end of the movie better someday be filled. Those woods in the final scene practically begged to be blowed up.

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