By Jonathan Decker (family therapist, film critic)
Salt, the female answer to the James Bond and Jason Bourne franchises, is an entertainingly absurd espionage film starring Angelina Jolie as a CIA agent who may or may not be doubling as a Russian spy. Jolie displays a nice range of emotion here and does most of her own impressive stunt-work in the film’s many chase and fight scenes. The numerous plot twists become more and more far-fetched, requiring the audience to engage the part of their brain that will help them to keep up with the story while switching off the part that decries how ludicrous it all is (another option: giddy abandonment of reality, which is where I found myself). Terrific actor Liev Schrieber is well-utilized, but Chiwetel Ejiofor’s talents are squandered. The director’s cut has a more satisfying story arc (the theatrical version sacrifices narrative closure in favor of setting up a sequel). GRADE: B
CONTENT ADVISORY: Contrary to what is portrayed in the trailers, there is no sexuality in this film (even in the Director’s Cut, though Jolie is scene briefly in her underwear during a nonsexual scene at a POW camp) and the language is within the confines of what has, sadly, become acceptable in a PG-13 film. The film is very violent, however. The hero of the film displays reverence for the lives of innocent people, but the villains leave a trail of bodies in their wake, and the hero has no problem making them pay for it with their lives. This director’s cut prolongs a pivotal death scene, which though not graphic, is now more emotionally taxing on the audience (for a purpose, I suppose).
MESSAGES TO DISCUSS: Lies are always revealed. Sometimes evil must be countered with force. Is it moral to kill an unarmed murderer who plans to kill again?
For another film that features a butt-kicking female (and Salt co-star Chiwetel Ejiofor at his best) check out Joss Whedon’s Serenity.