Thursday, August 05, 2010


The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming! It's kind of interesting how all of a sudden Cold War properties are big again. I read recently that the Red Dawn remake was almost finished with production.  There is a documentary that just came out partially talking about the Russians and their loose nukes in Siberia called Countdown to Zero. And now ripped from the headlines you have about a dozen Russian spies that were caught trying to infiltrate US businesses. Right on the heels of that juicy story comes Angie's (possible) double agent doing back flips off a semi. It's almost too good for television how this thing escalated in the media. I really thought for a little while that it was just a gigantic stunt cooked up by Sony. Of course we know now that it wasn't but, damn, you couldn't buy better publicity than that. I particularly enjoyed Liev Schrieber's taking credit for it on the Daily Show the other day.

Agent Evelyn Salt (Angelina Jolie) is the best at detecting bullshit which is why the CIA asks her to question a Russian walk in named Vassily Orlov (Daniel Olbrychski)  who claims there is a Russian spy working within the agency. When he fingers her for the job she goes on the run to clear her name.
It's a pretty clear cut premise with a pretty fantastic backstory that is by far more interesting than what unfolds on screen. It felt like a long episode of Alias with insane car chases and pulse pumping action. Angie does good work here as she always seems to be more comfortable when she's firing a weapon then she is holding a teacup. I admit I don't think much of her as a dramatic actress, but put her in some skintight leather and have her leap around on moving cars and she's a natural. Although sometimes I do find it hard to believe a woman of her small frame could clock somebody and knock them out. She would need to put on some muscle or something, again looking at Jennifer Garner from Alias, she's got a great body but she looks strong like she could probably kick your ass. I get that Angie can be cold and mow you down but she still struggles to be a brute. Just my thought, if your reading Angie, pack on a few by eating more than a cracker a day. I digress,  I thought the pacing was pretty good and as I said before the action pieces were insane fun. A bit too over the top at times, I just expected a thriller from Phillip Noyce would have more believable action pieces rather than over the top stunts. The stuff with the trucks where she hops around like Spider-Man felt a bit too much. But that's just me being nitpicky. The overall arc of the story was interesting but the big twist at the end falls completely flat. The big bad was way too predictable. I saw that one coming a million miles away. I won't ruin it for you but if you've seen these kinds of movies in the past then you pretty much guessed who the main antagonist is.
The supporting cast was really great Liev Schrieber as Evelyn's partner Tom and the always great Chiwetel Ejiofor as the relentless Peabody. I honestly wish they had given him more things to do but it was great having him around balancing out the drama. The other big complaint I had was the interaction between Evelyn and her husband Mike (August Diehl), you get flashes of their relationship throughout the story but they don't really give us a sense of his role in her life and why it's important. The only reason I bring this up, because it becomes a focal point that drives the third act of the film. They just didn't give us enough to go on and I felt like it falls a little flat near the end. Although the underground bunker scene under the White House was top notch, I really enjoyed the spectacle with all the blast doors and Secret Service Agents kicking ass. Overall it's a fun action flick with a really fun premise, the story kind of dissolves near the third act but the action and Angie keep this thing afloat long enough to be more than enjoyable.
Grade: 3 Buckets

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