25 July 2010

Salt (2010)

(Quick disclaimer. Yes, I've seen Inception. Yes, I really liked it. However, I am waiting to write about it until I've seen it a second time. It's the kind of movie that requires it. So expect some thoughts on it next weekend.)

It's easy to see why Salt was originally designed with Tom Cruise in mind. There's a lot of running. However, I'm not sure Cruise would have maintained the ambiguity that the main character requires in the way that Jolie does. For a significant portion of the film, you are unsure of whether Salt is a patriot or a traitor. Remembering that this is a big budget Hollywood movie will quickly dispel that confusion, however it is a tribute to Jolie that we find Salt potentially duplicitious in the least.

Much has been written by critics about the implausibility of the plot. Is it outlandish? Yes, at times. But I am confused as to why non-realism is being used as a way to critique a spy film. There have been some "realistic" spy movies in the past. The Bourne series is probably as realistic as any successful spy movies have ever been. However, audiences have never expected realism in this genre. They want false identities, double agents, cool gadgets, and outrageous stunts. Salt delivers those in spades.

While not being realistic, I think, is not a valid criticism, the way the movie handles its inherently unrealistic plot is a different matter. What the movie really needs is a sense of humor. It's not a problem to ask the audience to believe certain silly things. That's central to enjoying a lot of movies. However, to take it too seriously on top of that is dangerous, and that's where Salt gets into trouble.

I've been intentionally vague about the plot, because I'm assuming some degree of familiarity about the basic premise. Any other information on my part would fall into the realm of spoiler. Overall, I did enjoy myself to a certain extent. The movie has its thrills, yes, but is ultimately a slight affair. Though the ending promises sequels (rather heavy-handedly I must say), I can't say I'm dying to see them.

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