Matthew Lickona 9:46 a.m., May 20
The Cold War refrozen: a subterranean population of Russian “sleeper” agents in a Destroy America operation that dates back to Lee Harvey Oswald. For a short time the film, like its patient spies, puts up a decent front. Director Phillip Noyce, who owns such respectable credits in the genre as Patriot Games and The Quiet American, oversees some nice subjective camerawork and high-pressure closeups, and he reaches a pitch of intensity in nothing flat. Liev Schreiber, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Daniel Olbrychski all bring a compelling measure of commitment, and although Angelina Jolie in the title role of Evelyn Salt, ultra-modern Mata Hari, is so chiselled as to look out of place anywhere but in the funny pages, she reveals in the early going some becoming agitation and vulnerability. But then the chase is on, and is thereafter never really off. Huff-puff, huff-puff. Much like the deep-cover Russkies who finally drop their disguises, but much sooner, the film stops pretending to be a legitimate espionage drama and reveals itself for the silly dilly that it is, our saline protagonist altogether transforming herself into a cookie-cutter Kick-Ass Chick. The aficionado’s sense of betrayal and outrage cannot be less acute than Uncle Sam’s. The mindless action fan on the other hand, or more precisely the mindless fan of mindless action, should have no complaints, except maybe that even he’ll be a step ahead of the revelations. 2010.
— Duncan Shepherd
- Rated NR | 0 hour, 28 minutes