PEEPS! OMG here we are on another Friday! I hope you’ve all had a fabulous week and that you’re getting ready to go into the weekend with awesome mojo.
So the other day I was watching the movie Maleficent (2014) with Angelina Jolie (we’ll probably do a Fangirl Friday on that in a bit) and I thought, “huh. I haven’t seen Angelina’s Salt in a while, so I’ll just throw that in the ol’ DVD player, make some popcorn, and BOOM there you go.”
I suppose I’ve been thinking about Angelina Jolie since she’s been in the news lately (that whole divorce thing with Brad…let’s wish them both the best), and I’ve been thinking about the movies I’ve seen with her in them. I’m particularly fond of the films in which she’s a badass action hero because it’s just nice to see AJ kick some serious butt.
See the trailer HERE.
Basically, the plot is thus: Jolie plays Evelyn Salt, a CIA agent who operates pretty much under cover all the time, since her daily cover is that she’s an official in some bland-sounding company. Salt is married to a German national who is, of all things, an expert in arachnids. They have no kids, but they seem to have an okay life. Maybe Salt appreciates the calm stability this guy provides, given the crazy of her day job.
At any rate, the plot thickens when a Russian man is brought in for questioning because he allegedly wants to defect. However, what he’s actually doing is activating Russian sleeper agents, and within the first 20 minutes or so of the film, we find out that he is activating Evelyn Salt (or, as he knows her, Natasha Chenkova). He says during the interrogation that she is a Russian spy.
So the question thus becomes — is she actually a sleeper agent? Is she really going to carry through on the assassination plots that she’s supposed to? Or is she totes playing the Russians?
Basically, WHO THE HELL IS EVELYN SALT?
This is the overarching question throughout, made even more pressing because in some ways, it seems Salt isn’t quite sure who she is or who she’s supposed to be and seems to feel as if she’s caught between two opposing forces when all she really wants to do is find her husband.
Anyway, once Mr. Sleeper Agent activates her in the interrogation room, she realizes that her husband is in serious danger, so she has to get out of the CIA building and get to him, but all her colleagues are freaking out because this Russian dude said stuff to her and it’s clear he knows OF her somehow, so she immediately falls under suspicion and literally has to go on the run within this building.
And oh, what a run it is. She pulls a total MacGyver and constructs a freakin’ bazooka out of office furniture and cleaning supplies. I mean, who the hell does that? AND uses her teeny black panties to cover the surveillance camera when she does it? Evelyn Salt, that’s who. Uh, whoever she is…
Once she’s out of the building, she’s then pretty much on the run throughout this film, in a variety of disguises, and the audience keeps wondering if she’s really a Russian sleeper agent — after all, she was, in fact, raised in Russian circumstances (we get flashbacks) — or if she’s trying to ferret out a mole. Or just save her own ass. We’re not really quite sure what she’s up to until the last part of the film and even then, there are some questions that remain unanswered.
The many faces of Evelyn Salt:
(Yes, seriously. That dude on the end there? Evelyn Salt. Not gonna give you the particulars. Go see for yourselves.)
The pacing sucks you in, and Angelina Jolie is so good at giving you just enough of a trail of breadcrumbs that you keep following her, keep wanting to know what she’s doing and whether she’s an American agent, a Russian agent, or someone caught in some seriously fucked-up major international intrigue-ridden crossfire. You’re riveted by how smoothly and easily she operates, how physical and cerebral she is (swear, it’s like she and Bourne were separated at birth), and how you’re always wondering if she’s actually the one driving the plot or if she’s simply reacting to it. Hell, it’s both.
And it is such a beautiful thing, to watch a woman own the shit out of a movie as she negotiates all the twists and turns — and there are some major twists — and keeps us all guessing about what, precisely, her role in this plot is.
Point being, once this film starts moving, it.doesn’t.stop. The ending isn’t even a full stop. I heard a rumor that it was left a bit open-ended so that sequels could be done, but unfortunately, that didn’t happen. Which is a bummer, because this could have been a Bourne series with a woman in the lead, and omg how awesome would that have been?
The film itself was actually supposed to be about a guy, Edwin Salt, and Tom Cruise was tapped for the lead but ended up declining it because he thought the character was too close to the character he plays in the Mission: Impossible series, Ethan Hunt. So the script languished a little until Columbia pictures exec Amy Pascal suggested Jolie for the role. Jolie took it, and was just coming off having given birth to twins, but she trained to get in shape and did almost all her own stunts throughout, even sustaining a mild head injury during filming.
Salt won a few awards, and was actually nominated for an Oscar in best sound-mixing (didn’t win, but still).
Sure, there are some plot holes and some subplots that don’t quite seem to fit and stuff that is kind of WTF, and at times it feels like somebody shoved extra scenes in for maximum impact that were only peripheral to the overarching arc, but visually, it does cause this film to pack a punch. The camera work and effects help smooth some of the rougher parts of the plot that don’t seem to make sense, and you’re so caught up in Jolie Bourne-ing the hell out of everybody that you actually end up forgiving the glitches because it’s such a fun, thought-provoking ride throughout as you try to figure out who she is, what’s really motivating her, and whether you can trust her.
And even if you decide you don’t, you’d still want her to drive the getaway car.
So if you’re into thrillers and espionage and action-y films and you haven’t seen this, give it a look.