July 28, 2010
I still can’t get out of my head the opening scene of the currently-showing Salt, starring Angelina Jolie. There our hero lays, at full-length in her undergarments, in a North Korean prison. We know she’s been there for a long time, because her boyfriend–a vacant sort of German spider-man: “I’m an arachnologist” (or whatever)–has had enough time to convince the CIA and the North Koreans that a trade must be made.
The odd thing about the fully-extended CIA operative is that her legs and underarms are completely hairless. Yes, I noticed this, and found it odd, almost comic, and actually laughed.
Yeah, yeah, I know, women wax and do other painful things that last longer than your ordinary shave, but still. It takes a long time to organize prisoner exchanges. The Russians are one thing. The North Koreans? That’s a different story.
Well, on to the story. A Russian, Orlov, comes into the CIA to defect and finger none other than Agent Salt, now married to the Spider Guy and fully recovered of the North Korean-inflicted torture. He says she’s going to kill the Russian President! She runs!
She can run faster than all the CIA agents! She runs faster than their cars! While barefoot. It’s really amazing, and should do a lot for the current barefoot running devotees. Then–this woman who recently produced three babies for Mr. Pitt–jumps from an overpass onto a semi-truck. The math required to drop at the right instant is certainly inspiring, but what mostly got me is that she didn’t seem to have any bladder issues here, which is a dead give-away that all the babies were C-sectioned, although you’d have to check the Inquirer or other respectable source for verification of that. Then again, a woman who doesn’t have body hair after months in torture cells can probably also control little things like her bladder.
We later learn that she loves Orlov, has always loved Orlov, and will follow him through a collapsing building, will do anything. Until he shoots Spider Guy (I can’t remember his name). Then, the game is up and Evelyn Salt (with quivering chin) becomes the Terminator and shoots everyone.
Oh, here’s a great part: she disguises herself by (wait for it) dyeing her hair black. The funny thing is, when I dye my hair, everyone still recognizes me! Even to the extent of saying, “Why did you do that?” But for Evelyn Salt (“Ev” to Mr. Schreiber, whose character is trying to kill her), it is an effective disguise.
She later disguises herself as a man, but — ha ha– is RECOGNIZED under a full face mask and short hair. She looks really good in the man get-up, does a lot of mayhem in the basement of the White House and at the very last minute…SAVES THE ENTIRE WORLD from being destroyed by angry Muslims. It seems that if the US blows up Mecca, the Muslims might get mad. You think?
Motivation Problems: one is left with nagging questions. For example, why would a kick-ass CIA/Russian double-agent fall for an almost mute, plain-looking, uncharming scientist? Fall for him to such a profound depth that his death would launch her into a full-blown killing machine against everyone she had passionately believed in all her days? That’s question 1.
Question 2: Why does the CIA not recognize Orlov when he comes in to defect? A long time passes before a photo of him standing next to Brezhnev (Andropov? Chernenko? I can’t remember who it was.) at some patriotic event. Now, we know from Sum of All Fears that those guys at CIA know their stuff! They would have recognized this guy–he uses his real name, for crying out loud.
Question 3: Why does Liev Schreiber’s character (I totally cannot remember it, which is no slam on Mr. Schreiber’s greatness, but perhaps on my age.) want her to die? He’s jealous of the spider guy! Huh? Calculating, cold double-agents who have lived their lives for the Fatherland/Motherland will kill and destroy because their flirtations were not noticed? Well, why not. It’s 2010.
Then there’s the constant feeling that you’ve seen this movie before. “Mr. President: You’ve got to decide to go to DEFCON 3…NOW!” reminiscent of every Cold War movie you’ve ever seen. And how about this one: “I’m the National Security Advisor!” which moment we saw (better done) in Air Force One. There’s more, of course. This whole thing has been done before. The addition of Angelina Jolie is neato, and she does a great job in the part, but it’s not enough to make a great movie.
I wish they had worked a little harder on the plot and script as these are great actors and it cost me $15.50 (2 for the matinee) plus popcorn and a $4 water.