So what I'm tempted to do is to say, "Salt is as crappy a movie as you thought it might be from seeing its trailer... but you should see it anyways." I want to say this, not because the movie is crappy, but because going into it with expectations like that, like I did, will blow you away.
Let me explain. When I watch movies, I almost always am multitasking, doing something else while the movie plays. Be it exercising or job hunting or even just plain internet surfing, it always feels more productive to do it that way. Only really good movies can actually bring me to stop what I'm doing and pay full attention. With Salt, I begun it with the impression that it would probably be a somewhat uninteresting film, so I did something else at the same time. After all, the trailer suggested that it would be Angelina Jolie as another Jason Bourne knock-off.
About midway through I had stopped what I was doing (I actually have completely forgotten what it was I was doing!) and was transfixed to the screen. Time flew by as I sat there, jaw agape, watching the insanity unfold before my eyes. The sequel hook was laid, the credits rolled, and I found myself musing, "If they make a sequel to this movie, it will be AWESOME!"
Badass in Disguise
One thing that the trailers and reviews of this movie could not convince me of was Angelina Jolie's capacity to become a badass secret agent. Often hailed as the sexiest woman of all time (which is totally subjective, mind you), Angelina Jolie's roles often have her playing aloof women who are merely present to look sultry. To be sure, she has played roles where she has kicked ass (Mr and Mrs Smith comes to mind), but she never convinced me of truly being a badass.
Consider that perception absolutely corrected. In Salt, I became convinced that Angelina Jolie is quite possibly the scariest and most deadly spy I've ever seen in cinema. Prior to this, my impression was that Daniel Craig's James Bond would take that cake, but I think that, given the opportunity, Angelina Jolie's Evelyn Salt would take down Craig like it was nothing.
This badassery comes in two parts. First, Jolie's capacity for improvisation is beyond par. Armed with absolutely nothing, she is able to take out many enemies in the film at once through an intriguing use of the environment. Second, the sheer physicality of Jolie. I think that Angelina Jolie as Salt makes for the most vicious fighter I've ever seen in a female role. Jolie could take on Terminator 2's Linda Hamilton with both hands tied behind her back. Jolie could absolutely dominate Underworld's Kate Beckinsale, vampire powers be damned. By the end of the movie, I was utterly convinced that Angelina Jolie was one badass mofo, and that is quite an accomplishment considering my previously low opinion of the actress' acting abilities.
Full of Surprises
Another thing that made Salt really awesome to watch was the fact that, for me, the plot and the actions of many of the characters were completely unpredictable. Mind you, I went into this knowing only that Angelina Jolie would end up wanted by the law for something she didn't do. And that was just enough. For me, just about everything that followed surprised me. In order to avoid spoilers, all I can add is that nothing is what it seems. Usually I'm pretty good at spotting the good guys and the bad, but this one threw my first impressions for a loop.
On top of this, we have a plot that is rather exciting in terms of the politics and Cold War skulduggery of it all. While, in this movie, the Russians are once again put into the role of the antagonists (kinda), the real focus is on the spies, the members of the CIA and KGB. Given all the misdirection and ambiguity of both organizations, the story of Salt becomes multilayered very fast, and in a way that is appealing and less than convoluted. Although the climax is a bit stereotypical for a movie of this genre, I still found the story as a whole to be positively brilliant.
Long story short, Salt rocked my socks off. Once sockless, I found my way here, to the blog, to gush about how, for a movie that received so many "meh" reviews and bland trailers, Salt is refined awesomeness in disguise. My only complaint is that the movie felt like it started slow. However, it makes up for this failing by picking up to epic speeds right where you expect it to.
As a side note, I would point out that Angelina Jolie (for reasons I will not disclose) dresses like a guy in one scene of this movie. And it is the most terrifying thing I've ever seen. It is probably the scariest thing in the entire film, so if you aren't prepared for manly Angelina, then give this movie a wide, wide berth!