We need a female action star. Not necessarily the actress but a new, kick-ass female action character. Someone to carry a series of films that have the same excitement around them as Bond and Bourne. The closest we have so far is Milla Jovovich’s Alice from the Resident Evil series and I avoid those films like the plague after they took a clear, amazing game and film concept and ruined it beyond belief.
Angelina Jolie has had a go at this before with Lara Croft and the Tomb Raider movies. They weren’t bad but they fall into the same pit as the Resident Evil movies, you can’t make a convincing and faithful videogame film and also make a good film. I don’t think this will be the case forever though…
What it does mean is that there is actually room for Jolie’s Salt. If they made a film that fit the same, new “spy mould” as Bond and Bourne, realistic, gritty with fast paced action, they could have very well had a new action series on their hands. The film they produced doesn’t quite feel like that though.
I did enjoy Salt. The story was good. The action was brilliant in places and it kept me entertained without really having to try. I wasn’t blown away by the film. It wasn’t exactly doing anything new but if the aim was to launch a new female spy character, they went some way to achieving that. I say some way because I don’t think the film makers were sure what they wanted to do with the film. They had the opportunity to make a movie where you were never sure whether Salt was the hero or actually a villain. As they began to go down this route though, they didn’t really commit and always seem to redeem Salt too soon. (That doesn’t mean she doesn’t do some hugely questionable things that surprised me!)
Instead, the film they made was pretty predictable. It flew along at a great pace but you could see any shock twist or revelations a mile off. If you’ve seen as many action films or tv dramas as I have, these twists were worked out long before they actually happened. It meant that the film felt a little messy. Did it want to be an origin story, creating a new spy that we can invest in and follow through a series or tell a stand alone story that will intrigue and make the audience think but ultimately stand-alone? If left me wondering whether the original film was changed to create a series.
The action sequences were fantastic. The chase sequence that makes up the first half of the film was done brilliantly and the fight sequences that involve Salt and any of her enemies are also perfectly executed. You can see that the Bourne films have influenced this kind of movie and how they deliver these close-range combat scenes and it does make the action seem realistic and frantic.
Angelina Jolie is also great and could easily carry her own spy series. Whether Salt is that series, I don’t know. It didn’t particularly leave me wanting more or giving me any desire to see this character in any further adventures. Salt just isn’t as engaging a character as Bond or Bourne. She doesn’t have the mystery and honesty of Bourne or the rage and broken man persona of Bond. Instead the film tries to create a “lost past” that is meant to mislead us but it does so to the detriment of the character, you never really care about Salt.
Overall, the film is good but nothing special. There is room for a good female hero to rival Bond and Bourne and the potential for Salt to be that was there but whether they have laid the foundations for a film series is doubtful. The lack of commitment to either a good origin story or just a stand-alone action film meant that Salt was never anything more than just ok. I still think Angelina Jolie is the person to play that new, leading female hero though.
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)