Salt the propulsive new thriller from Phillip Noyce (Clear and Present Danger Patriot Games) has been dubbed “Bourne with boobs ” but that label isn’t entirely accurate. In the role of Evelyn Salt a CIA staffer hunted by her own agency after a Russian defector fingers her in a plot to murder Russia’s president Angelina Jolie keeps her two most potent weapons holstered hidden under pantsuits and trenchcoats and the various other components of a super-spy wardrobe that proudly emphasizes function over flash.
But flash is one thing Salt never lacks for. Its breathless cat-and-mouse game hits full-throttle almost from the outset when a former KGB officer named Orlov (Daniel Olbrychski) stumbles into a CIA interrogation room and begins spilling details of a vast conspiracy. Back in the ‘70s hardline elements of the Soviet regime launched an ambitious new front in the Cold War flooding the western world with orphans trained to infiltrate the security complexes of their adopted homelands and wait patiently — decades if necessary — for the order to initiate a series of assassinations intended to trigger a devastating nuclear clash between the superpowers from which the treacherous Reds would emerge triumphant.
The Soviet Union may have long ago collapsed (or did it? Hmmm...) but its army of brainwashed killer orphan spies remains in place and if this crazy Orlov fellow is to be believed they stand poised to reignite the Cold War. It’s a preposterous — even idiotic — scheme but no more so than any of our government’s various harebrained proposals to kill Castro back in the ‘60s. As such the CIA treats it with grave seriousness even the part that that pegs Salt who just happens to be a Russian-born orphan herself as a key player in the conspiracy.
Salt bristles at the accusation but suspecting a set-up she opts to flee rather than face interrogation from her bosses Winter (Liev Schreiber) and Peabody (Chiwetel Ejiofor). A former field agent she’s been confined to a desk job since a clandestine operation in North Korea went south leaving her with a nasty shiner and a rather unremarkable German boyfriend (now her unremarkable German husband). She’s clearly kept up her training during while cubicle-bound however and in a blaze of resourceful thinking and devastating Parkour Fu she fends off a dozen or so agents of questionable competence and takes to the streets where she sets about to clear her name and unravel the Commie orphan conspiracy before the authorities can catch up with her. That is if she isn’t a part of the conspiracy.
The premise which aims to resurrect Cold War tensions and graft them onto a modern-day spy thriller is absurdly clever — and cleverly absurd. But Kurt Wimmer’s screenplay isn’t satisfied with the merely clever and absurd — it must be mind-blowing. Salt is one of those thrillers that ladles out its backstory slowly and in tiny portions every once in a while dropping a revelatory bombshell that effectively blows the lid off everything that happened beforehand. No one is who they seem and every action every gesture no matter how seemingly trivial is imbued with some kind of grand significance. The effect of piling on one insane twist after another has the effect of gradually diluting the narrative. When anything is possible nothing really matters.
But spy thrillers by definition trade in the preposterous and the principal function of the summer blockbuster is to entertain. In that regard Salt more than fulfills its charge. Noyce wisely keeps the story moving at pace that allows little time for asking uncomfortable questions or poking holes in the film’s frail plot. And he has an able partner in the infinitely versatile Jolie who having already exhibited formidable action-hero chops in Wanted and the Tomb Raider films proves remarkably adept at the spy game as well.
It’s well-known that Jolie wasn’t the first choice to star in Salt joining the project only after Tom Cruise dropped out citing the story’s growing similarities to the Mission: Impossible films. But she’s more than just a capable replacement; she’s a welcome upgrade over Cruise not least because she’s over a decade younger (and a few inches taller) than her predecessor. Should Brad Bird require a pinch-hitter for Ethan Hunt he knows where to look.
The Tomb Raider star encourages the four year old to pick out her own clothing, which often includes men's neckties and sporty shoes.
And the actress is adamant she would never coerce Shiloh, who has a cropped hairstyle, into wearing a feminine outfit she wasn't comfortable in.
Jolie tells Reuters, "I think she (Shiloh) is fascinating, the choices she is making. And I would never be the kind of parent to force somebody to be something they are not. I think that is just bad parenting.
"Children should be allowed to express themselves in whatever way they wish without anybody judging them because it is an important part of their growth.
"Society always has something to learn when it comes to the way we judge each other, label each other. We have far to go."
Jolie is raising three adopted kids and three biological children with her partner Brad Pitt.
The Tomb Raider beauty, who shares six kids with boyfriend Brad Pitt, has been voted into second place in the survey by Babble.com.
Jolie is praised for her charity work with the United Nations, her $1 million (GBP625,000) donation with Pitt to the Haiti earthquake relief fund, and her support of an orphanage in Amman, Jordan.
The website's editors note, "(It's) easy to despise someone like Angelina Jolie. She may have an eccentric, brother-kissing, blood vial-wearing past, but now she’s a mother who instills empathy, compassion and generosity - and for that, we love her."
Comedienne Tina Fey landed third spot in the poll, while Jennifer Garner and Reese Witherspoon rounded out the top five.
The Tomb Raider actress cut Voight out of her life in 2001 after he voiced concerns for her mental health shortly before she adopted son Maddox from Cambodia.
Voight has made several attempts to mend his fractured relationship with Jolie, and he revealed in November (09) the pair is back in contact.
They stepped out in public for the first time in years on Sunday (21Feb10) when Voight was pictured with Jolie, her partner Brad Pitt, and their children on a boat trip down the city's Grand Canal.
Voight is delighted to have the chance to bond with his six grandkids and he hopes it won't be the last time he gets to visit Jolie and her young family.
Speaking to UsMagazine.com from Venice, where Jolie is shooting new movie The Tourist, he says, "It's nice to have something that's positive! (The canal ride was) lovely. The weather wasn't so bad for the journey. It's a very beautiful trip. A lot of fun.
"I love the possibility of spending time with the family. It's a very beautiful thing."
And the 71 year old insists Jolie and Pitt's romance is still going strong, despite recent tabloid rumours of an impending split
He adds, "Of course they are (fine)! You can see!"
The Hollywood couple celebrated the most romantic day of the year at Los Angeles' Benihana restaurant.
A source tells Life & Style magazine, "Angie's been coming in here since she was two years old. She'd come here with her parents and brother and loved to sit at the table and watch the chefs cook her shrimp.
"This time she came with Brad, Maddox, Pax and Zahara. She obviously took great joy in re-creating the experience of her childhood as the children enjoyed the spectacle of the food being cooked. They were all smiling and laughing."
Jolie even dined on her childhood favourite - shrimp with vegetables and edamame.
Fellow diners were left with no doubt that Pitt and Jolie are very much still together, despite recent tabloid reports suggesting they're about to split.
One eye witness tells the publication, "Brad and Angelina looked so happy. He stroked her neck and hand, and they kissed several times and looked on proudly as their kids used chopsticks and enjoyed their food."
The stunning Tomb Raider actress was voted the most attractive female celebrity of the 'noughties', followed closely by Aniston, who was previously married to Jolie's current partner, Pitt.
The survey, carried out by British beauty retailer Superdrug, placed Australian singer Kylie Minogue in third, while Welsh Oscar-winner Catherin Zeta-Jones was at number four.
Scarlett Johansson, Keira Knightley, Beyonce Knowles, Liv Tyler and Halle Berry were also featured in the top 10.
Superdrug's commercial director Steve Jebson says, "Angelina Jolie is not a conventional beauty but her strong character shines through her fabulous features to give her a unique standing in the beauty world.
''It's worth noting that while everyone talks about Angelina's pout we find that its her long thick lustrous hair that really makes women envious, as well as a figure made for red carpet posturing."
The Tomb Raider star, who has six kids of her own, sparked speculation she's planning to adopt after visiting an orphanage in the Middle East but workers later explained she and partner Brad Pitt were visiting the children she sponsors.
According to staff at SOS Children's Village in Amman, Jordan, Jolie became guardian to the three girls and four boys in 2003 and has been providing them with food and clothing ever since.
An insider explains, "Angelina considers the orphans as her own family. She stays in touch with them and really cares about how they're doing. She and Brad both feel this is a way they can help many more children."
And SOS employee Aysha Shahin adds that the kind-hearted actress may even be investing in a home for the family to live in.
She says, "Angelina will definitely support us by visiting again, possibly even sponsoring a house which will pay the children's expenses. She's a sweetheart, and one of our greatest supporters."
Jolie has three adopted children, two boys from Asia - Maddox and Pax, and a daughter, Zahara, from Africa, as well as three biological kids with Pitt - Shiloh, Knox and Vivienne.
The Hollywood couple has teamed up with exclusive British jewellers Asprey for a selection of high-end gold and silver pieces inspired by serpents as part of The Protector line.
The range includes diamond-studded pendants and rings, baby spoons and picture frames, all featuring the reptile, and are priced from $525 (£330).
According to WWD.com, Jolie chose the snake theme after being gifted a ring in the shape of a snake while she was pregnant with the couple's first biological daughter, Shiloh, in 2006.
Proceeds from the Protector range, which is being sold at Asprey stores in London, New York, Los Angeles, Toyko, Japan and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, will be donated to the Education Partnership for Children of Conflict, an organisation the Tomb Raider star co-founded in 2006.
In a statement about the charity, the stars say, "These are the children who most need a safe place to learn, a place to heal, a place to learn reconciliation, a place to build a better future and a place - to just be children.
"Yet the education for these children is often forgotten. Tens of millions of children and adolescents in conflict are not in school."
The Tomb Raider star is planning to take home a little girl from the Middle Eastern country, according to U.S. magazine OK!
But reports claim Jolie has begun the adoption process without her partner Brad Pitt, prompting speculation the Fight Club star doesn't want any more children.
A spokesperson for the Immigration and Naturalization Service in Washington D.C. reportedly confirmed that "only (Angelina's) name was on the (adoption) papers."
The actress has three adopted children, two little boys from Asia - Maddox and Pax, and a daughter, Zahara, from Africa, as well as three biological kids with Pitt - Shiloh, Knox and Vivienne.
Angelina Jolie has topped a new list of highest-earning actresses -- earning $2 million more than her partner Brad Pitt's ex-wife Jennifer Aniston last year.
Jolie banked $27 million in the last 12 months, according to Forbes magazine.
The bulk of the Tomb Raider star's 2008/2009 income reportedly came from her share of the profits from her action film Wanted and her paycheck for new film Salt.
Marley & Me and new film The Baster swelled Aniston's fortunes, and put her in second place on the new Forbes list.
Aniston also still earns big cash from reruns of Friends.
Meryl Streep came in third and Sarah Jessica Parker and Cameron Diaz round out the new top five.
Forbes tallied the actress' film payments and cash they made from clothing brands, perfumes and other sources to come up with the list.
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