Film Review: Salt

20/08/2010

Angelina Jolie dons a series of unconvincing wigs in this unconvincing action thriller. Salt is one of those films that should be good, but ultimately fails to live up to expectations.

Evelyn Salt, a CIA agent, is accused by a defector of being a Russian spy who intends to assassinate the president of Russia in New York. Salt goes on the run after finding her husband missing, with her colleagues in close pursuit…

Salt begins similarly to Minority Report; with an insider being accused of a crime they have yet to commit. With Tom Cruise originally slated to take the title role, the similarities could have continued. Instead, with Jolie at the helm, the film takes a series of twists, none of which are particularly convincing. Furthermore, the ending is rather unsatisfying and comes across as a tad presumptuous.

Phillip Noyce’s film attempts to keep the audience guessing with its twists and revelations (any detail on this would be too much of a spoiler). However, with every twist the film becomes more incredulous. Salt falls into the gap between realist thriller and popcorn action flick. On the hand the film takes itself too seriously to be enjoyed solely for its action angle, and on the other it aims at a degree of realism that depreciates with the film’s descent into disbelief.

Angelina Jolie does a fair job as protagonist Salt, although her artificial hair situation is somewhat distracting. Liev Schreiber is believable as Salt’s boss Ted Winter, although it is the type of role he has been cast in a number of times before. Chiwetel Ejiofor meanwhile is underused as Peabody, the most convincing character in the film.

The action sequences are well crafted, and add some much-needed excitement to proceedings. Even these, however, are marred by implausibility. Salt, for example, jumps from a bridge onto a metal container of a truck, yet is so little injured by this that she is able to make similar jumps moments later. Elsewhere, top CIA and security service agents are portrayed as wholly incompetent, despite the importance of their roles.

If you are looking films in a similar vein, Bourne Identity, Minority Report or The Manchurian Candidate are all superior choices to Salt.

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Film Review: Knight and Day

11/08/2010

Knight and Day relies heavily on the star power of leads Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz. The film definitely benefits from the pair’s chemistry; without this it is passable at best.

A chance encounter at the airport changes the life of June Havens (Diaz) forever. She finds her life is in danger after she gets chatting to secret agent Ron Miller (Cruise) on a plane…

As an action comedy, Knight and Day appears to tick all the boxes. The film contains large-scale action sequences, plot twists, a love story and amusing set-ups. Nevertheless, it lacks the magic that would make it a memorable film. Although the stunts are well produced, the twists aren’t that imaginative and the comedic situations are not as funny as you would hope.

Tom Cruise appears to send himself up a little in his portrayal of the seemingly unhinged Miller. As the film progresses, Miller is revealed to be more astute than his initial depiction; an analogy, perhaps, of Cruise and his public persona. Cameron Diaz plays June as ditzy yet endearing. It is a role she has played before, but one she plays well. Cruise and Diaz work well in this pairing; their chemistry sparks an interest in an otherwise mundane narrative.

The premise of Knight and Day isn’t a poor one, but it has been done before and executed much better than in this film. James Mangold directs the action scenes with finesse, however the sequences in between are let down by a lack of ingenuity, which would have carried the audience’s interest through.

Knight and Day is enjoyable enough if it is not taken seriously at all.  It is the type of film you would happily watch on television or dvd, but may leave you a little disgruntled after paying to see it on the big screen.