Director: Phillip Noyce Release date: 20/08/10 Link: IMDB I’d hate to have to sit through a version of Salt that didn’t star Angelina Jolie. And to think, if the original script had been pulled off as planned, that’s exactly what would have happened. When Kurt Wimmer initially wrote the screenplay for this contemporary action thriller, Jolie wasn’t envisioned for the part — nor was any female for that matter. That’s right, Evelyn Salt, a CIA officer who is accused of being a Russian spy, was actually first known as Edwin Salt. (Tom Cruise was allegedly going to fill the role.) But as the script went through several revisions, the sex of the title character was changed and Jolie was the only person considered to play the tough and sexy femme fatale. It’s a relief to know this decision was made because otherwise Salt could have easily ended up as just an average action film that shares too many similarities with films like The Fugitive or the Bourne trilogy. But with a woman taking the lead, you get to experience a different perspective on running from the law, and it’s one that is absolutely refreshing. (How many men would think about using their lacy underwear to cover up the lens on a security camera?) However, I have no doubt in my mind that Salt could’ve been a disaster if the character of Evelyn was handed to a different actress. There are not too many women out there who are capable of making an audience believe they can overpower men double their size (all while showing sex appeal), but Jolie is one of the few, and Salt is a more credible film solely because her presence. And it’s a good thing Jolie is up for the task because Salt doesn’t have too many moments when Evelyn is allowed to stop and catch her breath. Evelyn seems like the most loyal of CIA agents, but her allegiance is put into question when a defector proclaims that she is a sleeper spy who will be responsible for assassinating the Russian president. Salt’s boss, Ted Winter (Liev Schreiber), won’t accept what he’s hearing, but Peabody, a by-the-book counterintelligence officer played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, doesn’t want to take any chances, so the two hold her for questioning. Under normal circumstances Salt would surely cooperate, but she chooses to break out of custody and go on the run when she suspects someone has kidnapped her husband. If you’ve seen the previews for Salt you may already think you have it all figured out, but Wimmer’s script is full of so many red herrings you’ll be constantly second guessing yourself. (I thought I knew how it was going to end after watching the first 20 minutes, but that all changed when the film took an unexpected turn on the day the Russian president is supposed to be killed.) To be honest, though, the plot of Salt is one of the last things you are going to be thinking about while you’re parked in your theatre chair. Now I don’t want you to take that as a knock on Wimmer’s writing skills, but rather a compliment on director Phillip Noyce’s ability to keep your attention with his persistent barrage of action scenes, many of which include perfectly executed hand-to-hand combats, loads of gunfire and outrageous stunts. But admittedly, there will be plenty of viewers who will be turned off by Salt because some of the action sequences are so preposterous they are about as hard to swallow as a shot of Everclear. But realism has never really been a staple of the action genre, and at least you can tell Jolie and Noyce are having fun with it. It has become a sad state of affairs when I have to make special mention of this, but the reason the action scenes in Salt are so engaging is because they are free of any computer generated imagery. (If there is any CGI, I didn’t notice it.) They are real people doing real stunts in front of real settings, so even when things get a bit too absurd, it’s a little easier to suspend your disbelief and enjoy what’s being shown on the screen. It’s nice to be reminded every so often that they actually can make ’em like they used to. Photobucket