Throughout her acting career Angelina Jolie has starred in two different categories of film. The first being her character driven pieces (Girl Interrupted and Changeling), the second being her “popcorn” flicks (the Tomb Raider series and Wanted). Salt certainly belongs in the latter category.
That is not necessarily a bad thing however as Salt is, surprisingly, one of the more consistently enjoyable blockbusters of the summer. This action adventure revels in its sheer absurdities and clearly owes a lot to the James Bond franchise and other, older, espionage thrillers (there is even an unsubtle nod to Bond via the use of a blade-tipped shoe).
Jolie is in fine shape as the “is she or isn’t she” heroine and, as predicted, handles the physical aspects of the film with great ease. The direction however is what makes Salt particularly entertaining. Philip Noyce (whose previous work includes the Harrison Ford thriller Patriot Games) is clearly an experienced director in action set pieces. Unlike both The A-Team and The Expendables, Salt does not try to follow the somewhat pretentious “shakey cam” method; as a result the action sequences (of which there are many) actually make sense and excite. The pacing is tight and the film, for the most part, does not drag.
There are faults however which lie squarely in the final ten minutes This third act feels considerably more contrived than the previous one and a half hours and the final twist will surprise relatively few.
Nonetheless it retains the spirit of previous spy thrillers and offers (almost) as much intrigue as it does explosive action.