salt_movie_web.jpgMovie audiences are seldom treated to a female action star.  In action movies, most actresses are either relegated to the girlfriend role or the hot villain chick.  So, on those rare occasions when a film showcases a woman who saves the day, I like to participate as an audience member.

In the few female action hero characters to make it to the screen (“Wonder Woman,” Xena, and even the dreadful Halle Berry version of Catwoman), the characters got to be sexy, smart, and tough, without needing to be saved by a man.  Ironically, Tom Cruise considered playing the title character in Salt, but pulled out. 

Angelina Jolie is one of the few women in Hollywood with all the right ingredients for an action hero. Jolie has starred in action flicks like Wanted, the Tomb Raider series and knows what she’s doing.

The storyline in Salt is that Evelyn Salt (played by Jolie) is a Central Intelligence Agent accused of being a Russian spy that plots to kill the presidents of Russia and the United States.  Salt maintains her innocence; but since the CIA and FBI are eyeing her suspiciously and she’s fearful for her husband, Mike’s (August Diehl) safety, Salt goes on the run to save him.

First and foremost, screenwriter Kurt Wimmer created an original script.  It’s great as a first-film-in-a-franchise script that sets up the whole three/four picture deal quite nicely.  However, Wimmer spent too much time setting up Salt as a franchise film and not enough time on creating a good story.  The plot feels weak and is carried by Salt’s martial arts, weaponry, and overall secret agent prowess to flesh it out. 

Also, director Phillip Noyce ends Salt quickly and abruptly, which, of course, lines the film up beautifully for a sequel.  My beef with Noyce (and Wimmer by association) are the cool, but totally unrealistic stunts. Salt should have broken about three limbs, drowned, and gotten shot a few times throughout the course of the film. 

My other issue is that Salt is minus her love interest in most of the film. Male action heroes always get to have and keep their love interests.  Also, Salt ends up looking like a man at the end of the film.  Why?  So, the male audience members won’t be too unsettled by a female action star? 

Liev Schreiber as Ted Winter, the head of the CIA, is quite convincing and gives one of the best performances in the film.  He brought just the right amount of intrigue to give the audience a precursor for things to come. 

The other great actor in this film is Chiwetel Ejiofor as Peabody, an FBI agent.  (Why Ejiofor doesn’t star in his own films is besides me.  He’s so great, he needs his own work to shine.) In Salt, Ejiofor’s Peabody is always on the money and helps carry the film’s plot, in part, by echoing what the audience is thinking.  He’s the sage character who always comes through for the hero in the end.  Peabody is actually my favorite character.

Am I disappointed that Cruise turned down this role? Heck no!  We need more female action stars and Jolie as Salt is great.  She’s a great actress and actually brings talent to an action role, which usually doesn’t require much acting talent. 

Even though the character could have been far more interesting, I’d be glad to sit through more SaltSalt will probably open in 2012.  Hopefully, we won’t have to wait that long for another great female action star to appear on the silver screen. films to see what Jolie does with the role, albeit with a different director, with a different vision. The next