Saturday, July 24, 2010

"Salt" (Angelina Jolie) is more timely than had been expected

In recent weeks, a spy scandal developed in the US, where a few “ordinary Americans” were discovered to be Russian spy plants who had been living with fabricated identities for a decade or so. They didn’t find out much, but that makes an interesting backdrop for Columbia’s summer entry, directed by Phillip Noyce, “Salt”, where Angelina Jolie plays the CIA spy Evelyn Salt who may be a double agent.

The other recent development is the appearance of the indie flick “Countdown to Zero” (yesterday’s post), the second half of which paid a lot of heed to a continued latent US-Russia rivalry that could erupt into all out nuclear Armageddon at any moment.

In this film, it seems that the Russians do have a hair trigger plot to launch Cuban Missile Crisis II, for finish the job where Khruschev blinked. It’s pretty hard to believe the funeral scene where an obstructive Russian president is eliminated (those organ chords are particularly effective), but even harder to believe that the bunker below the White House would be left so easy to breach.

A real spy thriller needs to be a lot more subtle.

August Diehl appeals as Evelyn’s nice husband (even if he looks like he belongs in a gay bar), and Lev Schreiber is chilling enough as the crewcut co-conspirator Ted Winter.

The movie starts in North Korea with a spy exchange – again a coincidental tribute to the sabre rattling this weekend by that country, but most of it happens in Washington, with a lot of mistakes, including an apartment building that looks like it is in New York, and calling I-395 Route 1. Too bad, this is only a movie.

The movie was originally written for Tom Cruise, and rewritten for a female spy.

The final scenes show Washington and nearby Arlington in a light snow effectively; they may have been made just before the big February blizzards early this year.

Here is the website for the film.  Columbia did not use its climbing scale tradeamrk music with the Torch Lady (so effective with Castle Rock to open "Hamlet" in 1996), but you can play it here on YouTube.  Sony did give us an embeddable trailer of this film,

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