Salt (2009)

Rated: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action.
Length: 100 minutes
Grade: BC-CC=B
Budget: $110 million
Box Office: $303 million (118 U.S., 175 Intl., 10 DVD)

Written by: Kurt Wimmer (Bone Collector, The Saint, Clear and Present Danger, Sliver, Patriot Games)
Directed by: Phillip Noyce (Law Abiding Citizen, Ultraviolet, The Recruit, Equilibrium, Thomas Crown Affair, and Sphere)
Starring: Angelina Jolie
With: Liev Schreiber, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Daniel Olbrychski

Thirty years ago, a secret Russian project trained sleeper agents to be Americans in every way until they received their special targeting instructions. Now, the man who claims to have done this shows up at the CIA and tells Evelyn Salt in front of everyone that she is one and must kill the Russian President when he comes to speak at the Vice President’s funeral.

Entertainment Value: B
I was soooo looking forward to this, especially after Mr. & Mrs. Smith. However, I should have noticed the flop of Wanted as a better preparation. No doubt it’s fun and intricate and ridiculously action-packed. But a great action movie finds a way to be believably fun, and now realizing it was written by Phillip Noyce (the mastermind behind Equilibrium and the very good Recruit), I’m even more disappointed. Keep in mind, I’m still giving it a B, it’s just one of those movies you wish could have been better or more plausible. I hoped to give this an A, is all I mean.

Superficial Content: C-
Drugs/Alcohol A, Sex/Nudity B+, Violence D+, Language C+
Drugs and sex aren’t an issue here, nicely. Language is right in the PG-13 range, you know, right on the edge of not quite R. Violence is the main concern, with lots and lots of killing, and the movie opens with a sequence involving torture. This is definitely PG-13, perhaps R-15.

Significant Content: C
You never can know who’s really a good guy and who’s a bad guy. True love will change you to your core if you find it. Russians and Americans can be really bad guys. Women can be every bit as dangerous as men, even more so.

Artistic/Thought Value: C
Like I said before, it’s an action movie, not a thinker. It’s fairly intricate, but somehow I found it a bit too predictable. Then again, I’ve seen a LOT of movies, so I’m probably not a good barometer for most people’s ability to enjoy this.

Discussion Questions:
~Do you believe there are sleeper agents like this in the world? Why do you think so many movies have found this concept so intriguing?
~If you were a sleeper agent here in America, do you believe that our culture would be capable of winning you over or not?
~Do you think it’s healthy for a society to have female leads in action movies? Is it good to see them be fought by men? Is it good to see them besting men in fights? Is violence a feminine trait?

Poignant or memorable scenes:
~The opening scene and her trade.
~The story told by Orlov.
~Meeting her old comrades at the secret hideout.

Overall Grade: B
A passable action movie with the nutritional value of cotton candy. If you like this genre, the classic Telefon is a must-see, but No Way Out and The Manchurian Candidate (the original, preferably) are also fantastic.

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