Phillip Noyce, “Salt” (2010).


A perfectly ordinary thriller with an extraordinary premise: cast one of the biggest actresses in the world in a role that could have been played by just about anyone — Matt Damon, Harrison Ford, Tom Cruise, Will Smith, Jason Statham, take your pick — and then act as if you weren’t one of the biggest actresses in the world. Angelina Jolie is a CIA agent named Evelyn Salt who, during a routine interrogation of a Soviet defector, is accused of being a mole. Much obfuscation and disappointing bloodletting ensue, all in the service of Salt trying to get to her mild-mannered arachnologist of a husband and/or proving her innocence — again, take your pick. There are hints, here and there, that the filmmakers are at least aware of the utter ridiculousness of Salt’s physical prowess and the movie as a whole — namely, a scene when she vaults, Lara Croft-style, down an elevator shaft. But otherwise it’s a sexless, joyless affair, Salt corseted by the demands of the genre as she is by her Kevlar vest, and by the grim determination to create a female Jason Bourne franchise. If there’s anything true to the spirit of La Jolie in Salt, it’s the fact that she leaves car crashes in her wake.

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