Yesterday, I watched the new Angelina Jolie action-thriller Salt. It’s based on a comic book, apparently, though I didn’t know that before I saw it. Had I done so, I might well have accepted some of the more outlandish elements – like the slightly cartoonish feel to some of the fight scenes. But it was inconsistent in that regard, because elsewhere Evelyn Salt herself felt like a female Jason Bourne, while the story took itself more seriously in places than others.
In general I liked it, though ultimately I was a little disappointed where it ended up, with the film taking a turn for the worse after the skilful build-up of the first hour. Early chase sequences culminated in a few dramatic – if unlikely – escapes, but at least they were grounded in reality. Thereafter, things started getting a bit silly, with latex disguises and almost Matrix-esque manouevres in the fights, and this undid some of the good work from earlier in the film. It was surprisingly dark in a couple of places, and the daftness detracted from that a bit.
Otherwise it’s a pretty lean, efficient and sporadically exciting thriller. Jolie is a little too skinny for the role, but she’s got a certain steely toughness in her eyes that allows her to just about gets away with it. If she looked more like she did in her Tomb Raider days, she’d make a great action heroine. A few scenes let her demonstrate some impressive acting chops, too. There’s one scene in particular where Jolie does some amazing work with just her eyes and the tiniest movement of her lips, quietly conveying emotion at a time where her character is in danger if her mask slips.
It also manages a couple of neat surprises along the way, though I kicked myself for not seeing one of them coming. There’s certainly franchise promise here, with the ending naturally leaving some room for a sequel. Noyce’s direction was capable enough, and so it wouldn’t be a bad idea for him to helm another, though I’d like to see a tighter, more realistic script next time. Otherwise I’d cautiously recommend Salt, though it may be best to wait for the DVD.