Preview Review: Take it with a Pinch of “Salt”

Angelina Jolie’s philosophy for her own art is a complete enigma to me. Her career is a confusing mix of roles that rely almost solely on her sex appeal (see “Tomb Raider,” “Wanted”), roles that appear designed as a defense of her acting talent (see her brilliant performances in “A Mighty Heart”) and strange amalgamations of the two (“The Good Shepherd”).

Her artistic persona is further complicated by her personal one as one-half of the sexy, mysterious humanitarian duo Brangelina. So it’s fitting that the tagline of her latest action thrill-ride, “Salt,” is “Who is Salt?” because at this point, it’s hard to tell.

The action of the film is precipitated when a defector spills the beans that a Russian agent named Evelyn Salt plans to kill the president. As a result, U.S. government agent Evelyn Salt goes on the lamb to prove her innocence and uncover the whole story. The crux of the film seems to hinge on Salt’s identity. Is she a spy or isn’t she? What’s going on?!

The movie looks and sounds like a female response to the “Bourne” series; the trailer is full of instances of Salt using her environment in ingenious ways to subdue her adversaries. From my perspective, that’s a tall order. “Bourne” managed to function both as astute commentary on the state of security and privacy in America today and as a hell of an action movie. “Salt” doesn’t look quite as ambitious, but there’s definitely promise. Jolie’s celebrity will probably be enough to bring people to the box office, especially considering the steamy shots of her sans shirt in the trailer, but the agents tracking her down, played by Liev Schreiber and Chiwetel Ejiofor, may be the ones to keep an eye on. That is, if you can take your eyes off of Angelina.

“Salt” hits theaters July 23.

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