Tuesday 17 August 2010

A certain loss of piquancy: "Salt" (ST 22/08/10)

Salt (12A) 100 mins **

Like prominent adverts for back-to-school footwear, or the introduction of draconian hosepipe bans, the reappearance upon our bus stops of Angelina Jolie in figure-hugging latex has become a reliable indicator late summer is upon us. That minority eagerly anticipating another Tomb Raider or Wanted may initially be disappointed by Salt, which begins in semi-serious fashion. Jolie’s eponymous CIA wonk is knocking off for another day when in walks a Russian defector, spinning a yarn about sleeper agents operating behind American lines – somewhat incredible, as it happens, until the spy’s casual leavetaking outs our heroine as one of the embedded.

Hence all those posters asking “Who is Salt?” As for what Salt is, the answer’s not quite the twisty-turny contemporary thriller intended, more an extended striptease-cum-makeover montage. Off come Jolie’s heels – too constricting for a girl on the run – swiftly followed by her panties, apparently the only practical way of foiling the Agency’s security cameras. These are replaced by any stray jacket/dry cleaning/military uniform that presents itself; the most pressing national security issue Phillip Noyce’s film addresses is how a rogue female agent is supposed to maintain a presentable change of wardrobe.

It’s a magpie work, really, shuffling bits of Bonds and Bournes to fit, and one that got lucky in the States as the Anna Chapman story broke. Noyce keeps matters moving, cannily deploying Jolie’s pansexual, ethnically non-determinate slipperiness, that sense she could – in the field, as in the boudoir – go any which way. Cartoonish plotting prevails, however, and by the finale, wherein one Nikolai Turncoatski threatens nuclear annihilation while wrestling with a middle-aged white President, the film’s cover has been blown entirely: Salt belongs to another time, another place, and all it can think to do is run and run, until it risks creative dehydration.

Salt opens nationwide on Friday.

No comments:

Post a Comment