Movie Review: Salt

Oh, look, there’s the building I used to work in! Did they manually change the highway signs or did they just correct them digitally?

I’ve been known to be a self-confessed art-house snob when it comes to movies. Interestingly, our local art house, the Spectrum Theatre, was showing Salt, the new Angelina Jolie movie that was filmed, in part, in Albany, NY, rerouting traffic for a few weeks last summer.

Let me state from the start that Salt isn’t the type of movie the wife and I tend to see. We’ve never viewed any of the Jason Bourne movies, for example. When you see a lot of a certain genre of movie (or listen to a certain genre of music), it develops one’s critical eye (or ear). Still, Salt is what we decided to see on Monday night date night.

I thought, after an intense flashback scene, the beginning of the movie was slow, giving a lot of exposition; I never felt that way again. Salt was an adrenaline rush of action and tension from about 12 minutes in until the end. About 3/4 of the way through, my wife whispered, “I’m exhausted,” and I knew just what she meant.

This is one of those Cold War dramas that seemed farfetched until the recent Russian spy scandal in real life; the difference is that this group is far more competent, insulating themselves even in the halls of government.

I started reading the reviews: “bombastic, bells-and-whistles spectacular” – check; “ludicrous but somehow credible spy thriller” – check; “As she tries to find her husband, and perhaps assassinate the Russian president, she’s not quite sure who or what she is. And neither are we. Which is precisely why the whole thing works” – check; “How many times have we seen Cruise or Harrison Ford or Bruce Willis evade pursuers or when the need arises, disable them? The sex change makes what transpires feel fresh — and unpredictable.” – double-check. Anyone who has seen Die Hard or Mission: Impossible, and I have, has seen some of these tricks before, but somehow this (mostly) worked for me.

Perhaps it’s the star power that is Angelina Jolie. Though I don’t believe I’d seen her in anything since Girl, Interrupted in 1999, she turned out to be perfect for this role; she has…PRESENCE.

The one thing that took me out of the movie – but it’s OK – is probably the thing that I came to see: the highways around Albany, during the absurdly entertaining chase scene. Oh, look, there’s the building I used to work in! I recognize the Environmental Conservation building! Did they manually change the highway signs or did they just correct them digitally? The skyline looked pretty good!

If you see a lot of this genre of movie, you may feel it’s all rehashed plotlines, but we were glad to see it. If you live or lived around Albany, you must see it, if not in theaters, then certainly when it comes out on DVD, just for the ah-ha feeling you’ll have. Though if you wait for the Albany mention during the end credits, you’ll be disappointed.

Other movies using In Paradisum from Requiem, Op. 48 by Faure, in addition to Salt.

Roger Ebert’s positive review


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