Movie Review: Salt

I will issue no spoiler alerts but limit myself to this: a story which at times is preposterous, a well "crafted" film, something you should rent if you have nothing better to do on a Saturday night. In other words, I wouldn’t waste my money or my time.

I read somewhere that Angelina Jolie was paid $20 million to do this film. I don’t know if her name managed to spark more interest but personally, anybody could have done this movie and I doubt it would have made a difference. At the end of the day, it’s the story which keeps you glued to your seat not necessarily the actors and I’m afraid this story was at best just okay.

On a curious note, the director originally approached Tom Cruise but Tom had other commitments and was afraid this movie was too close to the Mission Impossibleseries. The main character was changed to female when Angelina Jolie was brought on-board.

The budget was $130 million? Wow.

The one thing about all this which came to mind as I was watching the film is how the special effects blend seamlessly with the rest of the film. The 1st film where I greatly appreciated this phenomenon was Forrest Gump. That film was the first time I truly saw how special effects could be used not for some big explosion or for an alien space craft or for whatever, but for a quiet, subdued part of the overall film. Imagine how Gary Sinise played a war amputee who had lost both legs and Forrest meeting the president of the United States. Quite amazing.

Several times during the film Salt I was thinking of how well the scenes of large crowds, scenes at the White House, etc. all seemed so real, so blended with everything else in the film. Obviously this must have been the work of special effects.

Warning to Film Makers

I started this review by using the word preposterous and I believe this word accurately describes what film makers sometimes present us in an attempt to amaze us. The stunts are no longer death defying; they are ludicrous. They defy the laws of physics; they involve doing something which is so chancy; there is no way I could possibly believe that anyone could get away with performing such a stunt. Instead of watching the spy doing something spectacular; I’m thinking this is more of something from the movie Jackass. The protagonist has more of a chance of failing than succeeding.

Dear film maker: The special ingredient of an action flick is that I have the idea I could somehow do this; that somehow I could be the hero. If you make the stunts so ludicrous, so "impossible", I can no longer suspend my disbelief and get on-board.

The Bourne films, superior to Salt, certainly show this. Notice how the Bourne Identity film #1 of the trio clocked in at Rotten Tomatoes with 82%.

Rotten Tomatoes

I discovered the web site Rotten Tomatoes a while back and have grown to respect its rating as an excellent summation of the quality of the film. For those of you unfamiliar with the site, the name comes from the cliché of throwing rotten tomatoes at bad performers and its rating is based on aggregating the reviews of professional critics. Personally, I find this rating to be pretty much spot on as an assessment of a film. My wife and I always check out a film’s rating before deciding on whether or not to see the film. In fact, there have been times when we’ve rented a DVD, we had wished we could have consulted Rotten Tomatoes before renting the film. Maybe we could have avoided wasting our money and our time: "I want 2 hours of my life back!"

My recommendation: If you don’t do this now, start doing it regularly. Bring up Google and type in "rotten tomatoes ". Most of the time the first link is what you want: the Rotten Tomatoes page giving the rating and details about the film. From there you can read the professionals and figure out if you really want to slap down your hard earned bucks.

Note: A rating of 60% or more is okay. Obviously, anything under 60% should be considered an act of desperation: I’m on vacation at a resort and the skies have just opened up to a deluge with the entire family trapped indoors. Hopefully enough buttered popcorn will dull the pain of watching a "B" movie or even a "C" movie.

A recent exception to the 60% limit was Hot Tub Time Machine. This was definitely a film for a younger crowd but its rating of 63% on Rotten Tomatoes belied how it was pretty lame for my taste.

Click HERE to read more columns by William Belle.

References

Rotten Tomatoes: Salt: 58%
http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/1213717-salt/

Wikipedia: Rotten Tomatoes
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rotten_Tomatoes

Wikipedia: Salt
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salt_%28film%29

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