Sunday, July 25, 2010
Angelina Jolie's Rote "Salt"
Angelina Jolie's Contradictions Buoy the Otherwise Rote "Salt"
Salt, a spy flick rewritten for Angelina Jolie after Tom Cruise dropped out, has been publicized as the cinematic equivalent of the 19th Amendment: finally, a level playing field for female action stars! This is mostly bullshit, of course — Jolie's Evelyn Salt is not the first action hero to be given a gender reassignment between initial conception and opening weekend (cough, Alien), nor is this the first stunt-heavy film Jolie has carried on her back and sold on her name. What is startling about Salt is the extent to which, in insisting on the moral ambiguity of its protagonist for most of its running time, it gives us an action-hero prototype that Cruise couldn't play and Jolie was born to.
That it flatters the audience by assuming a modicum of intelligence earns points if we're grading on a curve, but this is still closer to product than art. Highly satisfying, often exhilarating, refreshingly unpretentious product.