So I’ve taken a long time to put this post together, because I discovered in writing it that I don’t really think I’m much of a movie reviewer. So my apologies for the delay. And without further ado, here is my review of Salt and the story of the rest of our date.
As someone who spent a lot of time in college considering the probability of a resurgent Russia during the first half of the ‘90’s, I found Salt to be an interesting scenario to consider. As a movie-goer, I found Salt to be a well-made, intense dose of action and suspense. Angelina Jolie, plays CIA agent Evelyn Salt who is identified by a dying Russian intelligence agent as a part of Soviet era plot to insert KGB-indoctrinated children into American families and raise them into sensitive positions awaiting activation in a plot to bring down the United States and have Russia reemerge as a global superpower.
The movie managed, in my opinion, to stay just short of the line between a believable espionage drama and a James Bond style fantasy, although there were a few elements that seemed to be just a little too convenient. Salt’s husband just happens to be in possession of a highly specific item that comes in very handy for his wife, and the empty floor in the CIA office building that is used as a security buffer just happens to be full of the right cleaning supplies for making explosives. Are these points realistic? No. Are they fatal to the movie’s believability? Also no, and therefore these sins are forgivable as they both serve to demonstrate Salt’s intelligence and resourcefulness.
I was particularly pleased with Angelina Jolie’s performance. It’s hard to get a role like Evelyn Salt right. There are plenty of action movies out there featuring female operatives, but those characters are frequently out of balance. Some are simply moving through the espionage plot as the backdrop of a love (or lust) story, while others simply squash their humanity to the point where they are simply a killing machine in a woman’s body. Jolie managed to find the right balance. Clearly, Salt is a highly trained operative, as effective, resourceful and deadly as James Bond or Jason Bourne, but her basic humanity, as evidenced by her desperate fear for her husband’s safety, shows through. Refreshingly, the writers take her through the entire movie, in her both her roles as deadly operative and loving wife without using sex. That’s pretty impressive, given the many opportunities in the story line to do just that.
The movie definitely delivers in the area of suspense. Evelyn Salt’s loyalties and motivations are undefined for the first two acts. This is resolved at the beginning of the third act, but the Russian plot is still in motion, and it’s a doozie. I won’t give it away, but the end result would be an ungovernably toxic stew of cold-war bi-polarity and modern nationalist and religious conflicts, so toxic that any sane career diplomat would resign on the spot, move to the middle of nowhere and begin work on a secure backyard bunker.
So I heartily recommend Salt.
As for the rest of our date, Alissa and I stopped at home to change clothes and then proceeded with our planned dinner at Café du Paris in Edmonds. We both had the Boeuf au Poivre . We passed on dessert in hopes of catching the ferry over to Kingston for crepes at J’aime les Crepes, but our lingering kid-free conversation (you parents know that conversation, the one where you introduce yourself to your spouse again) made us miss the last workable ferry. We still could have gone across, but we wouldn’t have been able to return until 12:30AM. Instead, we walked along the beach, had more adult conversation, and searched the skies for remnants of the Perseids. We saw a couple of things, but I think they were satellites, as they were pretty slow and had no tails. All in all, it was a very fun and much-needed date. And the best part is that the kids did great at Grandma’s house, so we won’t have to wait another four years.