Based on some of the reviews I saw, I expected Salt to be a pretty straightforward action suspense thriller thing with lots of chases and gunfights, and just enough plot and character to tie them together, like Knight and Day or any of the other popcorn films of the summer. And it certainly covered those bases, with a lot of chases, action sequences, martial arts fights, plot twists, things exploding, and guns being fired. (In the obligatory way-too-close, way-too-shaky camera work that Hollywood seems to love so much, though not one single moviegoer I know likes it. When are they going to check with us again?)
But I was pleasantly surprised to find that it had a lot more going on than just that. It actually felt like a real spy movie. Plenty of people have compared it to the Bourne movies, and while I won't go so far as to say it was as gripping or well-done as those, the comparison is illustrative of the difference between this movie and stuff like Die Hard. Don't get me wrong, I like both kinds. But it's good to know which one you're getting.
Of course, since I saw it on the same day as Inception, which I'll be reviewing tomorrow, I hesitate to use the word "cerebral", but really, if it weren't in that august company, you'd really have to use that word to compare it to the other kind of action movie.
It did have its share of plot holes, and I have the feeling that if I watched it all the way through knowing what I know at the end, some of the actions taken by some of the characters would not really be explicable given their actual motives. The ending adds a particularly big plot hole that seems calculated solely to set up the sequel, but that doesn't make much sense within the movie itself.
But the "discredited spy/cop" storyline has been done so many times that this movie deserves a lot of credit for taking that and making a story where we really didn't see everything coming, where we wondered how things would turn out, and where the action fit into a story and served it instead of only being served by it. Salt probably isn't going to be an instant classic but it's a solid movie and a notch above most of the summer action movie fare. I'll go see the sequel.