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Starring Angelina Jolie, Liev Schreiber, Chiwetel Ejiofor, August Diehl and Andre Braugher
Screenplay by Kurt Wimmer
Directed by Phillip Noyce

While the projectionist tried to figure out how to make the projector spit out sound at the same time as picture -- it took him/her FIVE TRIES (and even then he/she forgot to turn out the theater lights), the though occurred to us that, maybe with all the kids she now has, Angelina Jolie needed to take a week off to make a movie. Then we saw this year's mindless Jolie starrer actionflick, and walked out of the theater thinking . . .

N SHORT: Nope. More like written in a week. [Rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for Intense Sequences of Violence and Action. 92 minutes]

Being the middle of Summer, it's time for another mindless actionflick starring Angelina Jolie. This year's offering, Salt, involves deep cover Russian (as in Soviet Russian) spies who have been trained from childhood and are buried deep within the workings of the US government and vital industries. For those of you who don't live in New York City, it is filled with action and so many tricks and double identities of characters in the story that to tell too much would wreck it for you.

For those in New York City, as we are, someone should take a cat o' nine tails to the hide of writer Kurt Wimmer for not checking; to director Phillip Noyce for not fixing (though visually he gets it half right) and to whoever in the studio oversaw this production, which has a great action scene that takes place in the NYC subway stated to be under Park Avenue, below the landmark St. Bartholomew's church.

St. Bart's is on Park Avenue. The subway isn't -- it runs parallel under Lexington Avenue a block in the other direction. An Amtrak tunnel runs under Park into Grand Central terminal but, since Jolie's action scene is on a subway exiting at the IRT 51st street station (that's correct) all of it screams that the script is taking liberties with reality. The only tunnel that goes anywhere near the area is a passenger connector between two different subway lines. Explaining that here, in detail, would bore you readers and explaining it in the film (though it isn't the tunnel used) just gets in the way of director Noyce, who is intent at moving his film's pace up to overdrive. This was just the first liberty that bothered us. It is not the first in the film -- a similar "liberty" may or may not be taken in the Washington DC metro in a preceding scene. Readers in that area will know if that is the case -- then again, mindless action films don't require much in the way of continuity so the heck with that . We're bothered enough that we've wasted more than enough space without detailing the story for y'all. So here goes:

The story of Salt begins in North Korea. There, a rep for a pharmaceuticals company, Evelyn Salt (Angelina Jolie) is grabbed as a spy and, essentially, tortured for two years. Only thanks to the incessant yelling of her husband Mike Krause (August Diehl) to anyone in the state department who will listen is Evelyn released. Michael is German born. He works with spiders has no idea that, indeed, his wife works for the CIA (which is a violation of CIA rules according to the press notes we received, and eventually corrected by a flashback in the script). On the other hand . . .

The pair may have been only boyfriend/girlfriend at the time. The flashback structure of the film allows for that possibility and is also confusing as all get out but, hey, who needs logic in a mindless action movie? Onwards !!

Two years later said secret agent is anxious to get out of the office and home to her hubby and dog (Burt) to celebrate her wedding anniversary. Unfortunately her departure, as well as that of boss Ted Winter (Liev Schreiber) is delayed by the "walk in" of a self-proclaimed Soviet agent named Orlov (Daniel Olbrychski). Orlov has switched sides because he has cancer and is dying, or so he says. Interrogated by Ms. Salt, he reveals a decades old plan to train and plant agents in the US of A and that "Day X" is approaching, which will lead to nuclear war between the US and Russia. It's trigger? One of these sleeper agents will kill the Russian president at the upcoming funeral of the USA's vice-president. [Damned prescient commies . . .] When pressed for the name of the killer agent, Orlov gives it up.

Evelyn Salt .

Salt, of course, knows it's a load of garbage but, apparently, this idea has floated in the intelligence community for years. Salt's first concern is with the safety of her husband -- part of the plan involves killing off the better halves and kiddies -- but her co-workers at the CIA are more concerned with keeping an eye on her. So, for that matter, is FBI agent agent Peabody (Chiwetel Ejiofor). When Salt can't locate Michael, it's up to her to bust out of CIA confinements to find and save hubby. He did, after all, do it for her. She just knows how to throw a punch and hijack the occasional motor vehicle. Action-wise we're off to the races. While the Company slams all doors and windows shut to contain Salt, no one notices that Orlov has walked out the door. . .

In New York, said deepest cover Russian agent, named Chekov, sets up for the killing stroke. (that's the kill the Russian president and wreck as much of a New York landmark as possible). Orlov reappears with additional orders for the agent . What's that mean? It means that while while Winter and Peabody are busy hunting for Salt, Chekov and another deep cover agent are to infiltrate the safety bunker under the White House and kill US President Lewis (Hunt Block).

Said infiltration will bring all parties concerned back together for one major wing ding and, since the rest of the story is dependent on who is lying and who is a deep cover spy or not, we'll say no more. Salt is a sloppy, break-neck paced film that the stoners in the back row were having a terrific time watching. We can appreciate dumb action movies, and this summer has been lousy with underwhelming actionflicks. But short of having to bring a date to see something, Salt ranks right up there with the dumbest.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Salt, he would have paid . . .


This week's waste of time.

Cranky attended college with a person who went on to join the CIA. Even if we could recall the name, we wouldn't spill it here 'cuz that would be just wrong . . .

amazon com link Click to buy films by Phillip Noyce
Click to buy films starring Angelina Jolie
Click to buy films starring Liev Schreiber

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