Salt: Angelina Jolie ‘makes the Cold War cool again’
Jolie takes Tom Cruise’s place in action film ‘Salt’ and makes it her own
You can't fault Angelina Jolie for timing. Her new double agent thriller Salt was premiered in Los Angeles last night within weeks of Americans being told their country is crawling with deep-cover Russian spies. But as one reviewer put it, "Forget Anna Chapman... it's Angelina Jolie that make the Cold War cool again".
Jolie and her partner Brad Pitt attended the world premiere along with her father Jon Voight, with whom the actress recently reconciled after years of estrangement.
The initial verdict on Salt from the US critics is positive. The Hollywood Reporter's Kirk Honeycutt heaped praise on Jolie's heroic performance as Evelyn Salt, a US agent accused of being a rogue Russian sleeper spy.
Variety's Justin Chang also lauded Jolie, describing her as "very much in her element, submitting gamely to the mayhem and hitting crucial emotional notes with effective understatement".
What will be particularly gratifying for Jolie is that the role was originally turned down by Tom Cruise, who instead chose to do his ill-fated Knight and Day, and was rewritten for her.
While Cruise's latest film has got critics asking whether his days as a bankable name are over, Salt has the pundits raving about Jolie as the first Hollywood actress to transcend gender as a top-flight action star. As the film's producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura put it in a recent interview, Jolie is "not a female action star; she's an action star".
Jolie's five action films in recent years - Wanted (2008), Mr & Mrs Smith (2005), Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (2003), Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001) and Gone in 60 Seconds (2000) - have grossed almost $1.5 billion worldwide. As a result, Jolie was able to command a $20 million fee when 'Edwin Salt' was recast as 'Evelyn'.
US critics have already noted that Salt director Phillip Noyce appears to be trying to position Jolie as the female equivalent of Jason Bourne or James Bond. But Jolie, as Kirk Honeycutt puts it, "more than measures up to Daniel Craig." In contrast to a Bond film, Salt, he says, is "lean and muscular" and "moves ever forward, it doesn't stop for martinis, either shaken or stirred."
'Salt' opens in the UK on August 20. ·
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