Thursday, August 05, 2010

JayRo Watches: Salt

I remember when I first watched the Sixth Sense, I figured out the twist almost immediately. I noticed the little things throughout the movie to lay the back story for when they revealed the twist. It was a well produced film that unfortunately launched the career of M. Night Shyamalan to a level that we are still recovering from.

I bring this up not only for the unnecessary shot at M. Night Shyamalan, but also because the Sixth Sense might be the last great movie that had a twist which worked within the context of the movie and as an actual surprise. Salt is the latest to attempt to give the shock twist, and the latest to fail.

It fails because we're conditioned to expect a twist ending out of our thrillers; a misdirection which is supposed to shock us. What saves the movie is that the story itself is strong enough to last on its own, even with the knowledge that something will be flipped on you at the end.

Angelina Jolie stars as Evelyn Salt, a CIA operative. She gets a visit from a Russian operative who claims to have information on how the Russian President will be killed. Salt's interest isn't piqued until he reveals the name of the assassin: Evelyn Salt. This launches the movie into a frantic half hour chase, where the CIA attmepts to bring Salt back into custody. The story is at its strongest here, with Salt escaping not only by outsmarting her pursuers, but by getting lucky as well. We then follow Salt as the story of how we got to this point is unraveled.

Jolie is fantastic playing Salt, being able to balance the kick-ass heroine role with the emotional gravitas of being concerned for her husband's well being. Knowing that the role was first offered to Tom Cruise makes me thankful that he chose to do Knight and Day; if he were to have played the same role it could have come off as derivative of Mission:Impossible.

All in all, I recommend Salt, even if you won't be surprised by the end. The story is structured that it does not depend on the shock factor, and leaves you satisfied with the resolution.

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