July 23, 2010
On the Big Board
||Builds the mystery nicely right up until we learn who Salt is. The movie completely falls apart after that, ending in an absurd shootout.
||It's a ridiculous plot, but the the pace is consistent.
Ever since Paul Greengrass shook the crap out of his camera in the last two Bourne films, leaving us disoriented, nauseated and begging for more, Hollywood has been churning out imitations non-stop. We’ve seen slightly varying incarnations of the political spy thriller starring Daniel Craig, Liam Neeson, Clive Owen and similar brooding, boobless leading men. But the public is always looking for something new. “What can I give them that these other films don’t have?” thinks Joe Studio Executive. Two words. Angelina. Jolie.
It’s true; Angelina Jolie will be taking on the title role as Evelyn Salt in Columbia Pictures’ Salt. She plays the typically wrongfully accused CIA officer, this time suspected of being a Russian sleeper spy, who goes on the run to prove her innocence.
Phillip Noyce will take the helm. He’s had appropriate experience in this area with the likes of Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger being the most significant. Most of his other films, including The Saint, The Quiet American, and The Bone Collector, apply as well, all falling into the political, spy or thriller category or combination of the three. Salt will be his highest profile release in over a decade and big studio money can complicate things. Godspeed, Phillip.
Rounding out the cast is the standard solid collection of supporting players in need of a paycheck (hey, everybody’s gotta eat.) Liev Schreiber and Chiwetel Ejiofor, two of the there best actors whose name you can’t pronounce (Ralph Fiennes being the other) will play Jolie’s friend/boss and adversary respectively.
Kurt Wimmer, who had his directing privileges revoked after Ultraviolet (to be fair, Equilibrium, another entry of his, was totally solid), wrote the story and the screenplay. He will share screenwriting credit with Brian Hegeland who’s had his successes - L.A. Confidential and Mystic River - and his failures - The Postman, The Order. Along with Salt, Hegeland has some serious projects in his queue including The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, the Paul Greengrass/Matt Damon collaboration Green Zone and Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood.
The most interesting storyline of this film’s production may have already taken place. This seemingly no-brainer was not always a Jolie vehicle. Several names have been attached to what has been a long gestating project. The most notable is Tom Cruise, who walked away in August of 2008. Columbia has to view that as a blessing in disguise. No doubt, the success of Wanted ($132 million domestic) went a long way towards Jolie landing the role. Oddly enough, changing the gender of the title character didn’t require more than a few tweaks to the script, so if Jolie appears in a bikini we know we dodged a bullet. The biggest change appears be the name. Previously the film was titled Edwin A. Salt (I assume Columbia changed it to just Salt because single word titles that are both last names and food are the latest trend, such as Milk).
At this point, Salt looks like a can’t miss. But who knows, perhaps Salt will be the Golden Compass of spy thrillers that signals the end of the fad. Or Jolie’s career could be the next one to be tarnished by jumping on an item of furniture. Remember when Tom Cruise seemed impenetrable? True, most likely none of this will happen and Salt will be a hit. But if I were the head of Columbia I wouldn’t put the down payment on that yacht just yet. (Tom Macy/BOP)