SCREEN Queen Angelina Jolie’s first film for two years takes itself far too seriously.
Salt, named after the CIA operative played by Jolie, is a thinly veiled attempt at making a Bourne-esque franchise, but rather than be genuinely gripping, the plot starts slow, is predictable and the script clichéd.
The action opens ‘two years ago’ in North Korea, where we find an unfeasibly blonde Jolie stripped to her underwear, bound and covered in blood.
She’s released with the help of her German arachnologist boyfriend (August Diehl) and we flash forward to their spider-strewn apartment, on their wedding anniversary.
At CIA HQ in Washington, Evelyn Salt is set to leave for the day, when she and her boss are called to interrogate Russian defector who accuses Salt of being part of a cell of highly trained Russian sleeper spies who are about to be activated in what he terms ‘Day X’.
Salt, he claims, will kill the Russian president at the American vice president’s funeral in New York.
Jolie can still kick some serious butt – there’s a huge body count in the film – but too often it seems she’s just going through the motions and some of the high-octane moments lack spark.
Chiwetel Ejiofor is on form as the counter-intelligence officer who chases Salt throughout the film, and is integral to the final scene that sets up a sequel. If there are tongue-in-cheek moments, they don’t raise a laugh and the dull colour palette does nothing to lift the film out of the realms of mediocrity.
STAR RATING: ***
BASED on the newspaper comic strip by Brand Anderson and Phil Leeming, Marmaduke is a mildly entertaining family comedy about the rites of passage of a dog who believes you have to wag your tail to someone else’s beat to fit in.
Of course, the lovable mutt ultimately learns a valuable lesson about individuality versus conformity, with some slapstick interludes and syrupy sentiment to sweeten the pill.
Following in the paw prints of Cats & Dogs, Tom Dey’s film allows its animal stars to converse via digital trickery, their computer generated mouths moving and eyes bulging in exaggerated fashion, while all the human characters hear are barks and meows.
Vocal performances are lively, despite the paucity of one-liners, and small children will love the dance sequences and cartoon violence.
STAR RATING: **