So, is Salt any good?

Salt movie stubs from the Spectrum

Lou got two tickets to see Salt at the Spectrum.

By Lou Quillio

Because Albany makes a cameo -- or, perhaps, even stars as a "supporting character" -- in Salt, we thought it would be fun to have someone do a review. So we asked people to post comments about their favorite movies and we picked one person for the review. That person was Lou. Here's his review...

What isn’t Salt? It isn’t about vampires, hasn’t time for quirky characters, and there’s no sex except for what seeps from Angelina Jolie’s pores. Since that’s not her fault, there’s no sex. Technically.

Let’s stop here for a survey.

Dislike modern action pictures? Trouble suspending mild, fast-moving disbelief? Testosterone-intolerant? Live in an arthouse? Salt is not for you. Ignore it. Your Farmville needs tending.

Salt works. If you like the Bourne films, you’ll like Salt — in some ways less, others more.

Bourne, like 24, sets the bar this way: Never stop the action, and resume right away if you do. The anti-hero is both tortured and tortured, a scary-smart MacGyver-assassin who’s always seven steps ahead, geopolitics included, even while waiting at Jiffy Lube. The bad guys are so badass that only a badass working alone can beat them. Bullets? Mosquitoes. Cameras? Strictly hand-held.

Salt (the movie) embraces all of these, with the wrinkle that Salt (the character) is a chick. Forget Chuck Norris. Think smokin’ hot Hillary Clinton with weapons training, raised in a survival school run by the villains from a le Carré nightmare: Delta Force KGB SAS ninja-commando hackers. In other words, Valerie Plame. (Does that woman know she has an action-hero name? Talk about a life advantage.)

Let’s pause again, while you read Tony Scott’s review. This being the Web, no sense in me warming-over the work of my betters.

What AOA readers first want to know about Salt is, “How much Albany?”

Not much; you have to watch for it. About fifteen minutes in, Evelyn Salt — respected CIA spook and freshly-suspected Soviet deep-cover mole — has busted improbably out of the DC office building housing her front operation. Okay, the lobby security is clearly government run, which doesn’t square with it being a covert front, so don’t think about that. She hits street level in a wool cap, looking to make tracks. This is when we go to Albany, so pay attention. If you know the stack of ramps around I-787 downtown, it’ll all be familiar. After this sequence there’s no more Albany.

Some other things to note about Salt:

  • The filmmakers don’t signal until the last instant that they maybe have a franchise (read: sequels) in mind, which is the cool way to do things. I’ve stopped waiting for the next installment of Remo Williams, and Salt: Pepper (co-starring a resurgent Wesley Snipes) probably won’t be made either.
  • It’s interesting that Russian enterprises — civilian, criminal enterprises, but Russian nonetheless — are back in play as villians in a big-budget Hollywood picture, as they have been elsewhere for a few years now.
  • The recent outing of sleepy Westchester Russian moles couldn’t have come at a better time for Salt — though they’re pretty obviously a missionless Cold War artifact that US security services have been puzzling over for many years.
  • Bonus: Liev Schreiber, “The Finest Stage Actor of his Generation,” is by now a movie star as well. What’s that mean? Always delivers, always fun to watch. No exception here.
  • Explosions and genre requirements notwithstanding, there’s a nuanced lode worth mining when Jack is Jacqueline and George is Georgia. As ever, Hollywood is colonizing a territory well-explored by British filmmakers, but skips most of the nuance.

Salt is what it is, and you know who you are. It’s worth the trip, and absolutely worth the rental.

Earlier on AOA:
+ The director of Salt would like to thank you
+ Lining up for Salt
+ More Angelina and more Albany
+ That's Angelina and that's Albany
+ Angelina Jolie to stop traffic in downtown Albany

Comments

You lost me at "Forget Chuck Norris". How dare you!

I want to love Salt... but I'm not gonna. Boycotting is too strong a word, it's just a movie. I still don't see why I would give some love to a movie that uses my city to pretend it's *another*, then CGI all over it. Sure thing, it happens all the time in this business, but wouldn't all this excitement be more deserved for a flick that isn't flashing $5 bills in front of my town only to slap pink lipstick and a wig on it?

Lou says "As ever, Hollywood is colonizing a territory well-explored by British filmmakers, but skips most of the nuance." Then I think I'd rather rent some of those British films instead.

I'm in the same boat as -S, though not as vociferously and not for the exact same reasons.

It was fun to watch a movie being filmed in our backyard, sure. But I'm not going to see this jecause because it was filmed partially in Albany, especially when the extent of that filming was our lovely tangle of overpasses that obscures the river from view. Albany is a beautiful city, and if the film took advantage of that, I might think differently.

Beyond that, come on, it's just an Angelina Jolie vehicle, and unless that vehicle is stopping overnight in my driveway I'm not interested.

Netflix, here I come!

Who cares if they covered The Egg with the White House? It was a good, fun-to-watch movie. Granted, I probably wouldn't have seen it if I hadn't been an extra in the movie, but I think that Salt, like Taking Woodstock, was a good thing for our area. Columbia Pictures employed hundreds of locals while filming here, and those people had unforgettable experiences and met awesome people while on set.

The best Chuck Norris Fact -- ever -- circulated during the 2008 Mike Huckabee presidential campaign (you'll recall that Chuck was Huckabee's mascot and security team):

Mike Huckabee's bumper stickers have no adhesive. They stick because Chuck Norris told them to.

LQ

> Columbia Pictures employed hundreds of locals while filming here,

They would have employed hundreds of locals anyway, somewhere. The reason it happened here is not altruistic: it was cheaper. We were cheaper. And easily impressed by the Hollywood circus. So unless Michael Bay trades the AllSpark for The Egg next year, set it on fire and throw it in space, I'll just spend $9 on Nipperdogs and watch "Hackers" again. Because I'm *that* old and grumpy :)

The sad story: wait for the same conversations when "The Other Guys" is out...

The next Remo WIlliams movie is going to be epic.

I knew there was something I liked about Lou. I've read dozens of those trashy Destroyer novels, and I'm guessing he has too. The stuff is too brilliant to be shelved forever.

Congratulations to the city of Albany for its cameo bit. As for the film, it seems like yet another piece of cinematic fluff without an original idea anywhere in sight. Sigh. Back to Turner Classic Movies and HBO/Showtime series for me.

I hope the movie is as good as the review... nicely done. "Your farmville needs tending".. funny stuff.

More thoughts on Salt at Kevin Marshall's house:

http://blog.timesunion.com/marshall/salt-nearly-impressive-in-its-stupidity/1572/#comment-2687

LQ

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