Movie review: "Salt"

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

"Who is Salt?" the ad campaign for the Angelina Jolie action flick asks. I have a follow-up question: Why the hell should I care?

A week after seeing "Inception," I went into another movie that throws the audience into wondering exactly what's going on. The difference is that "Salt" falls apart pretty quickly as soon as you start thinking about it even a little.

CIA officer Evelyn Salt (Jolie) is tough, shrewd and smart - think Angelina Jolie in every action movie she's ever done. When a defector accuses her of being a secret Russian spy planted years ago, Salt goes all maverick and on the run.

As the head of the counterintelligence team (Chiwetel Ejiofor) tries to hunt her down, a fellow officer (Liev Schreiber) sides with Salt.

Director Phillip Noyce ("Patriot Games") plays a poker game with the audience as to which team Salt is really on. The problem is, his bluff has a huge and unforgivable tell that I picked up on early and couldn't shake.

As the potentially interesting espionage mystery began crumbling, I found the time to further consider some of Salt's improbable "Bourne"-style narrow escapes.

I wanted to see the badassery that years of elite training brings. Instead I thought, "Well, it's pretty fortunate that someone drove by with a motorcycle for Salt to steal at that exact moment."

"Salt" clocks in at a lean 100 minutes - often a good sign for slick, shrewd storytelling - but it somehow feels much longer. Jolie throws herself into the role physically, but I've seen it before and, frankly, I'm tired of her.

Look, maybe I'm overthinking "Salt," but I think maybe you shouldn't even bother. Just see "Inception" again.


Opens Friday

1.5 stars out of 4