tn_saltHey, have you guys ever noticed how alot of these so-called action movies they do now days make no effort to show any action in their action scenes? I think I might’ve mentioned something about that before, not sure.

Okay, it’s getting old for me to write about, and I’m sure it’s even worse for you to read about. But I feel like if we stop mentioning it it’s like we’re saying it’s okay. Whether it’s Michael Bay’s ridiculous edits or Paul Greengrass’s wobblecams that opened the floodgates, something happened, and old fashioned notions like geography, coherency, and visual storytelling got buried. The language and standards of action cinema that have evolved and developed over generations have been thrown out the window and it’s become acceptable to just have a quick smear of photography that sort of loosely implies the fights and chases that audiences used to pay money to actually see with their own eyes. I think there’s gonna be a backlash against this type of movie pretty soon, and it’s bubbling up in this new wave of DTV action we’ve all been enjoying. But still, you can’t just let it go. You gotta say something.

mp_saltSALT is obviously not the first or worst offender of this type of deal, but it’s definitely guilty. Evelyn Salt (Angelina Jolie) is a badass superspy who kicks ass, and this we know because in one part near the end the camera actually holds steady on a pretty hardcore dangling-over-a-ledge finishing move she does. I’m also 90% sure she ran up a wall and did a kick like Milla Jovovich would do, but other than that most of her physical feats I can only guess at.

I’ve decided that this must be mentioned every time but it shouldn’t take this many words, so I think I have the right term to describe this type of movie: post-action. Post-action movies are about the same subjects as the action movies we love, they use many of our favorite action movie tropes, but they’re not about the action. The parts of the story that involve action are more of a hassle they want to hurry past than a highlight that they want to display and celebrate. CASINO ROYALE, with its breathtaking parkour chase, is an action movie. QUANTUM OF SOLACE, with its eyeball-punishing car chase, I consider post-action.

As far as post-action movies go, though, SALT is pretty enjoyable ludicrousness. Salt is a CIA agent working as a well-dressed business woman out of a fake office building. She’s about to leave work early to celebrate her first wedding anniversary when a mysterious Russian dude shows up, knows this is really a front and starts telling a story about a Russian baby raised to be a sleeper agent to kill the Russian president at an upcoming state funeral. He claims that Salt is that baby (the alleged sleeper is supposed to be grown up now by the way, not still a baby) so her bosses Pepper (Chiwetel motherfuckin REDBELT Ejiofor) and Butter (Liev Schrieber) try to lock her up for interrogation. She’s worried that somebody’s targeting her husband so she makes a run for it and tests out the whole On the Lam Trying To Prove My Innocence routine. And along the way gets involved in assassination, nuclear war, etc.

(wait, I just checked IMDb and the bosses’ names are actually Peabody and Winter, respectively. Outlaw Vern dot com regrets the error)

It’s definitely a little bit of THE BOURNE FEMININITY, but what I like about it is that it only makes a minor surface effort to seem plausible. It doesn’t fake reality, it pushes it, and pushes it real good. It keeps a straight face the whole time but can’t possibly expect you to take it as seriously as the Bourne movies want you to. It takes no time getting to the improvised explosives (she makes an excellent rocket launcher thing using only basic office and cleaning supplies) or the scene where she hops between the roofs of multiple moving vehicles on a freeway. (And you said a FROGGER movie was impossible.) The story also has twists that aren’t mindboggling or anything but are at times ballsy and definitely not what I expected based on the trailer.

You know what, here’s how to explain what this movie is like. As Salt escapes she ditches her pumps and ends up running through city streets with bare feet. But we’ve all seen DIE HARD before so the filmatists are sure to inconvenience her even more than McClane. Early in the movie she’s climbing on the outside of a building with bare feet, a skirt with no underwear, and a backpack with spiders in it. And later you find out there was also a dog inside the backpack.

They even give her a sort of super hero backstory. Her father was a wrestler, her mom was a beautiful chess champion, she was kidnapped and raised by a brainwashing master spy. So she’s got good genetics and upbringing for the sort of thing she does, and if you need to know all her proficiencies then be ready for the scene where they’re listed on Redbelt’s Blackberry (I only caught something about “edged weapons.”) As far as I know this is a new form of Just How Badass Is She?, putting it on a handheld device and not reading it out loud. I like it.

I appreciate the dedication to absurdity, because it makes Jolie the perfect casting for the role. If it had tried for something gritty and believable her cartoonish beauty might’ve been a problem. Early in the movie, during the U.S.-MARSHALS-but-with-Jolie-instead-of-Snipes portion, it’s funny that she can run around and not be spotted. I mean, the girl is stunning. Not as stunning as when she ate food and had curves, but still. A woman like that goes on the subway or in a crowd, people turn and look at her. I don’t care if she switched from blonde super model hair to brunette super model hair and put in weird contacts, she’s gonna be easy to spot. Later in the movie she has some more elaborate disguises that I can go along with, and if there’s a part 2 hopefully she’ll take it further with a fat suit or old man makeup.

You also gotta suspend the ol’ disbelief to accept that a girl like that is gonna fall for the creepy-looking German spider expert. In my opinion. I mean I guarantee you that creepy-looking German spider experts are watching this movie, looking over at their wives and shaking their heads. Saying come on Hollywood. Nein.

Like many of the higher quality post-action movies there are a few moments of energy and badassness that manage to squeeze through the cracks. For example the part where her enemy is on the other side of a bullet proof window. She unloads her gun into the glass, inches from the guy’s face, and he doesn’t even flinch.

There’s also an urban foot chase scene that isn’t anything great but to be fair I guess it pretty much follows standard action movie language. If you’re wondering, and I’m sure you are, Salt’s fleeing etiquette is pretty middle of the road. She doesn’t go out of her way to be polite to her fellow pedestrians (like Schwarzenegger when he keeps apologizing to everybody in TRUE LIES) but at least she’s not one of those assholes who messes up kiosks and shit, throws O.P.P. behind her to slow down her pursuers.

To be frankly honest the foot chase really doesn’t need to be mentioned in this review, but I brought it up because I’ve been itching for an excuse to go off on a tangent about sidewalk etiquette. Bear with me ladies and gentlemen. This is gonna by some real Larry Seinfeld type shit, it’s gonna blow your mind. Observant, funny, petty, sad, etc.

This rant stems from a brief, insignificant incident a few months ago. An associate and I had just left my apartment and were groggily walking down the sidewalk when a voice yelled from behind: “ON YOUR LEFT!”

It was a woman out for a morning run, coming up behind us, and in retrospect I know that what she wanted was for me to be aware that she was about to run past me to my left. The problem is that it was 10 am, early morning for me, and I was on a city sidewalk, not a trail or a track. I had just woken up, was 10 feet from my residence and was not prepared for athletic commands to be shouted at me from behind. I tried to do the right thing, but in that moment I wasn’t sure what she wanted. Who’s left is she on? Does that mean to my left, or to my companion’s left, which is to my right? Or does she want me to move to the left so she can get through? Is she even shouting at me, or is there somebody else she’s on the left of? Could I be on that person’s right? What do I do?

These were not answers that were coming to me within that half a second so what I did was, I turned around to look. But this put me in the young woman’s path and caused her to almost crash into me. Whoops.

Lady, you don’t know me from Adam. You come up behind me, you don’t know if I’m drunk, if I have earbuds in, if I’m completely deaf. Although I guess if I was it would’ve been fine, I wouldn’t have heard her and wouldn’t have turned around. But in my opinion if somebody runs up behind you and yells at you, it is a natural and expected reflex to turn around to see who the fuck is yelling at you and why. This woman disagreed. Instead of saying “sorry” or even just ignoring it and continuing, she yelled “JEE-ZUSS!!!” in self righteous fury. To her I was the asshole, I had really put her out by not properly translating sudden unexpected shouted commands on a public sidewalk.

Don’t worry, I didn’t yell or run after her or anything, but man it got my blood boiling, and has haunted me ever since. I mean, aren’t I right about this one? If I was playing sports and somebody yelled out something to me about where to go or what to catch, that would be fair. There would be a mutually agreed upon relationship and set of goals. It would be in context. If I was on a trail for bikes and jogging that would also be acceptable, because I would be there with the understanding that biking and jogging are the trail’s primary uses.

But my own city sidewalk where I live? No. I’ve had this problem before and actually it’s usually worse because it’s usually people on bikes who are shouting from behind. And so far I’ve kept my cool but I know one of these days I’m gonna lose it and I’m gonna grab somebody and yank ’em off of that thing. I haven’t had a car since the early ’90s so I don’t hate bicyclists like alot of drivers do. But it pisses me off when they don’t have the balls to ride among cars but think it’s okay to throw their weight around on the sidewalk.

If you’re on a bike you can and legally should ride in the streets. We wheel-free pedestrians can’t and shouldn’t walk there. Therefore, the sidewalk belongs to pedestrians. Since we are polite we are willing to welcome you as our guest, but don’t be an asshole. If you you are biking or running at a speed where you’re gonna run into pedestrians unless you shout out a command at them then that means you’re doing it wrong. That means you’re being an asshole. You’re on the same level as the purse snatchers in movies and TV, who push people out of their way and knock things over. When you drive I’m sure you knock over innocent fruit carts.

I’m not gonna lie, I’ve run on sidewalks before. Good for the heart, sometimes required for catching buses, or sometimes a man needs to evade capture, right? But you steer clear of innocents. If I was that runner I would’ve just stepped out into the street, which was completely clear of traffic and parking, and if traffic did come it would’ve been facing her. It would’ve been so much easier to just avoid us than to try to warn us she’s buzzing our tower. I feel strongly that I was an innocent victim here, and she was the one who fucked up. But I didn’t get mad or yell the Lord’s name at her. So she shouldn’t have. Learn your sidewalk etiquette, lady. Salt would never do that shit.

. . .

Okay, good. Sorry about that. But I needed that off my chest. Now hopefully I can forget about the whole thing, just like the filmatists here forgot they had Andre Braugher playing the Secretary of Defense, and gave him like one or two lines.

So anyway, here’s another attempt at a female James Bond or Jason Bourne. She does all the good secret agent business: shooting, bombing, punching, running, climbing, disguising, poisoning, deceiving. She passes the test. What she doesn’t get to do is fuck. She has a husband who she loves, but you’re not sure why she thinks he’s a really really good man, and he’s not in the movie much. Bourne gets to fall in love, Bond gets to get it on, but Salt just gets to look good. She doesn’t talk about sex, or all the good times and bad times that may be. It seems unfair since she’s the female counterpart to those male hoes. But I kind of like it too, because she can be very capable without falling as much into the sexpot trap as most of our female asskickers. And actually I’d rather the screen time be spent on her tricking people and blowing up buildings than on meeting dudes and falling in love. So maybe the women are ahead of the men on that one.

The skipper for SALT is former action director Philip Noyce (BLIND FURY), the writer is former action writer Kurt Wimmer (ONE TOUGH BASTARD), and Brian PAYBACK Helgeland did the “we’re switching it from Tom Cruise to Angelina Jolie” uncredited rewrite, meaning he wrote the part where she took her panties off to block a security camera. One of the two credited editors is Stuart Baird, director of EXECUTIVE DECISION and, strangely enough, U.S. MARSHALS. The musical score is by Spinderella.

Whoops, wrong again the score was by James Newton Howard. And Pepa doesn’t have a cameo. But keep it in mind for the sequel, fellas. Speaking of which, I hope this does become a series as long as they increase the silliness in each installment. I’d like one that’s an EASTERN PROMISES rip-off, with a tattooed Salt going undercover in the Russian mafia. Also there should be an underground fighting tournament one where she has to fight Oleg Taktarov. Or maybe they could even make that one a crossover where she meets Ivan Drago and/or Uri Boyka. Anyway, welcome back, Cold War. We missed you.

This entry was posted on Friday, July 30th, 2010 at 3:48 pm and is filed under Action, Reviews, Thriller. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

94 Responses to “Salt”

  1. Vern – As I wrote elsewhere, my friend dismissed it as a “retarded remake of NO WAY OUT,” and I might actually agree with that label.

    Funny but I don’t think you mentioned that I must admit a badass moment when she cleans out a bullet wound with a maxipad. That was a clever moment within a boring forgettable formula actioneer. As I said elsewhere, if INCEPTION wonderfully reminds us what summer blockbusters can be, SALT is what they’re usually are.

    I’m also reminded of that GOLDENEYE review you did years ago, about how for a movie all about being post-Cold War, the Russians were the baddies again. They seem to Hollywood’s reliable resort for villainy outside of Nazis and Arabs.

    Even though honestly, the Russians don’t do it for me. Sure Soviet Russians were good fallback foil because that was a corrupt dictatorship, always preaching about the evil imperialist West (which to a degree was true) while themselves were invading evil imperialists. Also they were dorks for hating Rock n Roll (and rap too I’m sure), which was so evil and decadent, Moscow had to quit banning it and allow records be sold legally (without paying copyright). Vladimir Lenin was made a bitch by John Lennon.

    But Russians now? OK Putin is a dick, but that country is less a totaltarian state and more an unhealthy corrupt oligarchal republic which doesn’t play the Anti-Imperialist righteous card as much when they dabble in Iran or Georgia simply because there is money to be made, or because we got our bitches here.

    That said, SALT sure had good timing too with those undercover Russian moles getting busted weeks ago.

  2. Also, as resported elsewhere on this web sight, Kurt Wimmer is scripting the TOTAL RECALL remake which Len Wiseman is helming. I expect Michael Bay-cinematography here, with film stock so drained out of color, looks like someone took technicolor film stock and pissed on it.


  3. Saw this last week and, sitting there in the dark, trying to watch anything else in the frame except this woman’s astonishing beauty (better when she used to eat, as Vern so pointedly remarked) I just kind of felt . . . nothing. The perils are not “realistic” enough to make me worry about her, the action is too blurry to be impressive, Redbelt is not in it enough, the “twists” feel too twisty (including her own switch: why?) and so forth.

    SALT in prison, covered with tattoos, having to win a brutal tournament in the first act in order to escape, directed by that dude from BLOOD AND BONES, or the Hyams kid. That sounds cool. It won’t make a lick of sense but it will make me feel something. Other than lust.

  4. Vern, I have a completely different kind of sidewalk etiquette to discuss. I’m talking about people who think the sidewalk is a perfectly good place to set up shop for a nice, long a conversation. I don’t know what the foot traffic is like in Seattle, but here in New York we got a lot of motherfuckers trying to get from place to place. The sidewalk is a dangerous and hectic thoroughfare, and you need to keep your eyes peeled and your feet moving. We don’t appreciate people congregating in the middle of the sidewalk having a discussion about whether to get to the Asian fusion restaurant or ooh! I heard the new South African place was good. You can do that shit on the go. You wouldn’t stop your car in the middle of the road while you think about what you want for dinner, would you? You’d get rear-ended, wouldn’t you? Yet people are perfectly willing to block the whole sidewalk with a thousand power-walking New Yorkers hot on their heels, about to mow ’em down like a stampeding buffalo herd. It’s called a sideWALK, people, not a sideSTANDAROUNDLIKEANASSHOLE.

    When it’s a group of tourists, I have no problem throwing a shoulder and swearing loudly. I feel like I’m doing them a service. Not only am I teaching them a lesson before someone with some real body mass can knock them into a dirty puddle with some old Band Aids floating in it or some shit, but I’m also giving them the full New York experience. Now they can go back home and tell everyone how rude we New Yorkers are, just like all the movies say. You’re welcome. Now get the fuck out of my way. I’m walkin’ here.

    And don’t get me started on the fat broads with the huge purse sticking out of one side and their big flabby arm fully extended on the other, swaying back and forth like a windshield wiper. That’s worse than a whole family of midwesterners.

  5. In other news, I liked SALT for its admirable achievements in ridiculousness, but the action was total gibberish.

  6. SirVincealot – SALT left me neither compelled by the people, nor thrilled by the action filmatics. Cracked.com as a joke weeks back called it “Jason Bourne with a Vagina,” which is funny for its true that it does xerox those BOURNE movies, about as well as that Beavis/Butthead episode when they “copied” dollar bills.

    I’m a big fan of those Bourne movies, not necessarily simply for the action filmatics (nicely crafted, maybe or maybe not all that action cinema can or should be) but….I liked that character. A good likeable/rootable anti-authority badass with his own code of ethics who can stick it to the Man.

    Or in short, Jason Bourne is to the 2000s as Dirty Harry was to the 1970s.

  7. Jareth Cutestory

    July 30th, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    Vern: I don’t know if this was your experience, but I’ve been almost-mowed-down by joggers who have made similar remarks to what you endured. In every case, the jogger has articulated their insult as if they had some sort of moral high ground. “Like, exCUSE me, pedestrian, but I’m actually trying to BETTER myself on this sidewalk. Can’t you SEE that?”

    This also applies to douchebags who can’t walk and use an electronic device very well yet justify their stumbling around because that email from work is JUST SO IMPORTANT. Fuckers.

  8. Jareth Cutestory

    July 30th, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    Majestyk: I’ll be hanging around the East Village at the end of August. You’ve done more than any public service announcement could to keep my ass off to one side of traffic.

  9. Majestyk – Yeah, that’s another one. Of course that’s not nearly as big of a problem in Seattle as New York, but there are definitely areas and times with serious tourist and shopper congestion, and they don’t seem to understand that they gotta step aside to allow traffic flow. You learn not to cut through Pike Place Market on weekends because some joker convinces the tourists that they have to see two guys throwing a fish back and forth before they leave.

    A more Seattle specific one would be the people walking down crowded sidewalks with huge umbrellas poking at my eye level. Motherfucker, you live in Seattle. I think you can handle this light drizzle on your head for a couple minutes. Or get a coat with a hood.

  10. I can relate to ya, Vern. I was actually standing around waiting for a bus, and some guy on a bike, without warning, runs into me from behind, and then has the nerve to tell me watch where I’M going. I WASN’T GOING ANYWHERE, ARSEHOLE! YOU WERE! Personally if I rode a bike, I’d be too much of a chickenshit to ride it on the road, but I’d have better pavement manners than that. And what about Doorway-Loiterers? People who are are on a cigarette break or are waiting for rain to stop, and are choosing to do so standing in the doorway to a public place like a mall or something? Is it not obvious to them that people need to get through those doors?
    Anyway, SALT. Not out over here yet. Seen the trailer a few times, and that had Avid Farts in it(in the form of rapid speed rewind to flashback to an earlier point in time, and just randomly put at the end with a shot of Salt ripping a latex mask off interspersed, complete with “wouhlawouhlawouhlawouhhl!” rewind sound effects) and a “crash a car off a bridge into a bunch of cars down below” scene that is clearly ripped off from The Bourne Ultimatum. Also, it’s lame that when Tom Cruise was attached, his character was called Edwin A. Salt, but when they recast with Jolie, they didn’t take the obvious route of calling her Edwina Salt.

  11. I’ll maybe catch it on DVD. In other related news…

    …I just found a complete set of every single Seagal movie, all being sold off secondhand, at my local secondhand DVD store, up to and including “Pistol Whipped”. (Which I am particularly looking forward to, following Vern’s review.) It wasn’t a box set or anything, just thirteen quid for the lot. (That’s about nineteen American dollars. It remains to see whether I was ripped off or the seller was.) I will be watching them one at a time with a copy of “Seagalology” in one hand, something 45%-proof in the other hand, sitting in a comfy seat next to a glass coffee table. (Long study of Seagal’s fight scenes has taught me that a glass panel is the only weapon that you ever need, and any attempt to use anything else will probably result in things in your body, things that you really don’t want to be snapped in half, being snapped in half. Come to think of it, if you happen to be holding a pool cue or broken bottle when you confront Seagal, your arm is probably already broken and you just don’t know it.)

  12. Paul – Fucking AWESOME.

  13. Since RRA mentioned Russian , Arabs and Nazis as common villains in American movies , I’ve got an issue that’s in my head since I re-watched Django (1966) . Why the KKK is not as widely used , not used very often as a villain ? In Django I was thinking “Well that’s a very good idea , especially for a western , since the KKK started around the end of the American Civil War. And …wait a minute , how many movies have KKK related villains?”. The answer is not that many , right now I really can only think of Django and that Ninjas-vs-Klan movie Vern reviewed a while ago.I mean , I think they’re just as reliable and hateable villains as any other racist group , plus silly names and ranks and costumes .

  14. Man, I can always get behind lectures in sidewalk etiquette. I always find myself dealing with big clogs of people like Majestyk describes, or umbrella-wielders like Vern describes. Which, by the way, I am still dealing with in the dog days of summer here in Vancouver, because (not being racist I fucking swear) a lot of Asians carry them as a sun-deterrent. I just wish people would be a little less oblivious to their surroundings. The worst is when you’re walking behind someone and trying to pass them but they’re drifting all over the fucking place. Stay in your lane and shoulder check if you’re going to start cutting across the sidewalk diagonally. And what’s with people who walk right at you? I am big, I will take you down asshole. I also tend to notice these things more than your average pedestrian because I walk faster than a motherfucker. Just a couple of weeks ago I actually passed a jogger at my normal walking speed. I gave them a backwards glance as if to question their concept of exercise but guy didn’t make eye contact.

    Paul – that is indeed fucking awesome. I’ve been waiting for something like that to happen to me since I read SEAGALOGY.

  15. Oh and post-action is pretty good shorthand for the phenomenon you’re talking about Vern. Coined another one you did, I believe.

  16. “On sidewalking etiquette”

    I don’t really have an issue with people stopping on sidewalks to admire a building/art or have some sort of conversation on it , as long as they understand that they’re not the owners of the fucking city and they’re not the only ones using it . If they stay with their back on the wall , side by side , they can stop for all the time they need . I hate the runners , the bikes and people with umbrellas over their shoulders ( what’s up with that , really ? If you stop you can stab someone in the eye , jackass ) and I really fucking hate people making out and kissing in the middle of the sidewalk . I don’t know if this is an Italian thing or what , but it seems that if you have a partner , the enjoyment of your time with him/her is directly proportional to the number of people that can see you with him/her. So now they just stop in the middle of the sidewalk ( more often that not in front of stores ) . What’s wrong with the parkbench ?

  17. CallMeKermiT – that’s what you get for living in romantic old Italy I guess. Fuckin tourists think the whole place is their private boudoir

  18. Heads up: barnesandnoble.com is having a 50% off sale on Criterion!

  19. Gwai Lo : Well , you’re right . I guess Italy is indeed very romantic , and the last time that shit happened to me was in Venice , maybe the most romantic city in Italy. But I still think that all of these sidewalking problem can be avoided , people only need to be a little less self-centered and respect ( or in some cases , even just aknowledge ) other fellow humans.

    Wow , I was thinking , the most romantic city in Europe is Paris , it must be impossible to walk !

  20. Thanks Vern, hadn’t gotten a good tangent rant in a while. More please.

  21. CallMeKermiT – Its more movies than that, but yeah you have a point. I suppose the reason is this: KKK aren’t exactly that legitimately menacing on a grand scale like they used to, in deep contrast to a true criminal expansive enterprise like say the Aryan Brotherhood.

    I think people, especially foreigners, tend to not realize that the “Klan” as a whole hasn’t really ever been a national organized group (since the 1920s at least) as so much dozens upon dozens of independent gangs using the same slang, rituals, and rhetoric. And after the J. Edgar Hoover-run FBI basically went gestapo* in their dirty war against the terrorist Klans in the 1960s (think MISSISSIPPI BURNING), the Klan itself hasn’t been politically relevant since then.

    That’s not to say the South has gotten over racism. Oh no, we haven’t. Its now coded speeches and cultural war topics to beat the same drum, but with a different hand. Consider how future U.S. President Jimmy Carter ran a fucking racist-flavored campaign in 1970 for Governor of Georgia, which worked.

    Or 2006 when a racial-tinged TV spot was what decided a crazy dead-heat race between Ford/Corker. YouTube that bullshit sometime and dare tell me a white woman implying sex hookup to the black Ford was merely coincidental.

    Or hell recently, since lets admit these Tea Party whackos are mostly either from the South, or inspired by politics from Dixie. Look at that silly “controversy” over a planned mosque in NYC that happened to be near by the WTC site. Nevermind one earlier had been built, and still there, is one just 4 blocks away.

    Nobody in political office in the South dare want to be seen with the Klan in public, or associated with them in any way.

    *=Unfortunately, alot of the tactics and methods used was later deployed against the Black Panthers and other supposed leftist militant groups, alot of which talked big but didn’t do much beyond that. Basic consensus now is that FBI was wrong to do that, but was FBI right to do that against the Klan.

  22. That last line I meant as a question.

    CallMeKermiT – Especially a bitch to walk in Paris if like streets are morphing and the city folds upon itself like a sandwich or fruit stands randomly explode. I hate when that happens.

  23. Here in Boston / Cambridge / Mass. we generally know how to deal with sidewalk shark joggers like that. The appropriate response in the elegant Yankee tradition of Emerson, Thoreau, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., Emily Dickinson and the Kennedy’s would be to yell “SHUT UP, LADY! Yeah, you bettah run!”

    I had an experience somewhat similar while crewing on a certain film shooting in Charlestown last October, which may or may not have recently had a very cool trailer in front of INCEPTION. This yuppie jogger who was clearly NOT a Boston native tried to run right by me and into the path of some minivans and camera cars whipping by us at about seventy-five miles an hour. And when she realized the street was closed and she was gonna have to take another route, she was NOT happy.

    (She was not nearly as amusing as the guy who hung around telling us how the whole Charlestown bank robber thing was a myth and what really came out of Charlestown were car thieves like himself, the best on the East Coast, according to him. “But don’t worry, we ain’t gonna boost none of youah cars or nothin’.” Gee, thanks.)

    I also wanna compliment Vern on the “Post-Action” concept. BRILLIANT. And absolutely correct.

    And to get back to Charlestown for a moment: Based on the trailer, I strongly suspect that the aforementioned upcoming crime drama / bane of joggers will have authentic old-school action, and it’ll be real good. Boston, you’re my home. : )

  24. CC – This untitled movie, was it shot in The Town literally? :)

  25. cosmosmariner1979

    July 30th, 2010 at 7:52 pm

    Hi, Vern. I’ve finally gotten the guts (balls? Might not be the right term since I’m a chick) to post in the comments. I was thinking of seeing “Salt” but I wasn’t sure how the whole “no one’s gonna notice the otherworldly beauty of Angie Jolie” vibe that I was getting. Like that goddess isn’t going to be noticed right away, no matter what the hell she’s wearing. But it doesn’t sound completely crap, so I might check it out next week.

    “Post-Action” is 150% correct. Most of the supposed actioners I’ve seen are really post-actioners. I’m so gonna use that in my own life (with your permission, of course).

    And dude, that bitch who ran you down on the sidewalk was probably PMSing and needed a Starbucks jones, and was on mile three of her five mile run before she takes off in her beotchy Lexus and stops off at Whole Foods to pick up some organic free trade wheatgrass juice. I just fucking hate people who think they rule the road/trail/sidewalk. I pay taxes just like you do, lady. I probably would have tripped her dumb ass.

    OK, I’m out.

  26. Have to say, its totally refreshing to know that Vern’s joint ain’t a total sausage fest.

  27. RRA : Thanks for the clarification. So basically , right now the KKK is no more much of a threat and the more powerful active racist groups are treating them like retarded yahoos . Got it .

    Still , I think there’s untapped potential in the “KKK-as-a-villain” concept , especially in western but not limited to . Think about it : cyborgs , cowboys , mercenaries , martial artists , aliens and samurais . I wanna see their asses kicked by absolutely everybody . Plus , there’s really no danger of having a “charismatic bad guy” ( like the Joker) with them . You’re rooting for the good guys in these Vs-Klan movies.

  28. cosmosmariner1979

    July 30th, 2010 at 8:05 pm

    @ RRA – howdy, bro. :) That’s one reason I was a little anxious – but then again I’m usually the only girl in the group, so this ain’t nothing new.

  29. Hell , even Razorbacks-vs-Klan sounds good to me .

  30. We used to have another girl of the female persuasion hanging around but AU scared her off. Too much man for her, I guess.

  31. cosmosmariner1979

    July 30th, 2010 at 8:25 pm

    @ Kermit — Razorbacks as in insane hog callers? :D That would be hilarious. Who looks more ridiculous – the idiots with the bedsheets on their heads, or the ones with the big red plastic hog hats?

    @ Mr. M — dude, it’ll take a lot to scare me off. Nice name, BTW. Haven’t seen that movie in ages…

  32. Yeah, in Boston all you have to worry about are drivers who think it’s fine to park anywhere, including right in the middle of the street, as long as you have your hazard lights on. “Why is this lane so slow…ah, it’s one a these fuggin retahds.”

    Save this review for the Hall Of Excellence, Vern; you Strived and Achieved this time. Besides coining “post-action”, which is sure to get you immediately included in college syllabi everywhere that hasn’t already added a Badass Studies course, this has everything I want in a Vern review: opinion, analysis, specific examples, personal anecdotes, Salt, and Pepa. This review ain’t for everybody. Only the sexy people.

    Do you still take the bus everywhere in Seattle? I haven’t heard a good bus passenger story in awhile.

  33. Jareth Cutestory

    July 30th, 2010 at 8:35 pm

    cosmomariner1979: You can tell that the SALT film-makers made some sort of effort to dress Jolie down in this one. As Vern said, there was none of her usual sex kitten posturing, and the action scenes were free of slinky poses and struts (unlike, say, MRS & MRS SMITH). Of course, as Majestyk mentioned in another thread, no other females over the age of 12 were allowed to participate in this or any other Jolie film, so the male gaze is always going to single her out as something of an object, no matter what else is happening around her. God knows SALT wasn’t the script that was going to give us an actual attempt to understand womanhood.

    Another pedestrian pet peeve: motherfuckers who enter a subway car and just stand in the doorway, trying to decide which seat they’re going to take, blocking the 50 or so people behind him/her who are also trying to enter before the doors close.

  34. Motherfuckers expecting a guy to be lucid and awake at ten am! You should have stretched and extended both arms right about then.

    Yes, the drifters are bad. Sometimes it feels like they’re TRYING to keep you from passing. And the stand-arounders. In my experience, they’re often business types getting out of lunch, yukking it up and exchanging cards, talking about golf scores or their stocks. Or surfing or rock-climbing, since we have yuppie/hippie/jocks where I live.

    How about the dicks who stand waiting for the light to change on the ramp part of the curb when you’re pushing something heavy (or even worse, when a person in a wheelchair is coming)? I have a folding grocery cart that I wheel to and from Costco or Trader Joe’s or wherever, ’cause I’m not one of those lazy-asses who drive everywhere. STAND ASIDE FOR THE INDIVIDUAL WITH THE WHEELS. It’s simple decency.

    And yes, the infamous huge-assed ambling tourist families. “Spread out, kids. Form a human wall. Make your presence known!” HEY, WE’RE NOT ALL ON VACATION. SOME OF US ARE LATE FOR THE IMAX SHOWING OF INCEPTION WHERE OUR FRIEND IS ALREADY WAITING WITH THE TICKETS AND IT WASN’T MY FAULT! Or maybe it was, but get the fuck out of my way. This is not an Iowa cornfield.

    Ooh, ooh, how about the jerks who walk two-abreast in the narrow construction scaffolding tunnel so they don’t have to interrupt their conversation?! SINGLE FILE, DICKHEADS!

    And then there’s Chinatown in January. Two-foot-wide sidewalks, tourists, bins of fake chirping crickets AND umbrellas. I often weave in and out of the street — but then I have to watch for delivery trucks. Imagine how silly I’d feel getting crushed to death by canned lychees.

    Do you have back-door-of-the-bus-sneakers in Seattle? The ones who pound on the door and give you a dirty look if you don’t open it from inside so they can ride for free, as if everyone knows it’s common courtesy to do so?

    Great topic, I could go on all day.

    All of this must seem very alien to you suburbanites. What bugs you? I imagine most of your complaints are about parking at the mall.

  35. cosmosmariner1979 : I was thinking about real Razorbacks , huge , killer wild boars , but your idea is good too! Welcome aboard !

  36. Cosmos – you might know this already but the Iron Man marquee on your posts is in Seattle. They always got good smartass slogans on there. Good to see that one making the rounds.

  37. cosmosmariner1979

    July 30th, 2010 at 9:03 pm

    @ Jareth – I doubt that the makers of SALT was thinking of a woman’s empowerment film when they cast Angie. Yeah, I know that she’s a tough, capable woman in most of her film roles – I mean, it takes a special person to be Lisa the psychopath, Gia the junkie, and Lara Croft. But since you can count on one hand the number of female feminine-type dames who can anchor an action movie, I don’t think they were thinking of Jolie as female Bourne or whatever. I think it was more “Tom Cruise is batshit insane and Jolie’s action films have made a crapload of money lately…let’s get her.” I mean, if they could have gotten Ben Affleck (barf) would they have done it? Probably not; dude’s movies aren’t making the dough, and that’s what it’s all about.

    whoa, sorry – total tangent there. My apologies.

    @ Vern – holy crow, dude….you’ve just made my day!!!!

  38. What about — ?

    – People with umbrellas who double-down on their rain protection by walking under awnings
    – People who, unaware of laws of physics such as “two solid physical objects cannot occupy the same space”, try to get on the subway as soon as the doors open with people trying to get off
    – Double-wide SUV strollers
    – People who get off the front of the bus when they are not blocked from exiting the back door, have no pressing need to speak to the driver, no bike to retrieve, and are otherwise physically unimpeded
    – People walking the same zombie shuffle as the stranger beside them instead of falling into single file to let commute athletes like myself pass
    – People who stand still on an escalator that don’t stand aside for escalator athletes like myself that take the moving stairs two at a time
    – People on the bus or the subway who get up early to be the first at the door, and then couldn’t be slower getting the fuck off and out of my way
    – People who wait until the crowded bus or subway has come to a full stop before attempting to make their way through the crowd
    – Damn kids on my lawn

    Welcome cosmosmariner1979, I was beginning to wonder when some female disciples of Badass Cinema would show up.

  39. cosmosmariner1979

    July 30th, 2010 at 9:42 pm

    @ Gwai – I hate those big ass double-wide SUV strollers – those damn things ought to be banned. And I hate those heifers who use them – I mean, I’m minding my own business at the Baby Gap buying some clothes for my niece, and those bitches with babies who can fucking walk but refuse to do so because they want to get the jump on being like those people in “WALL-E” wheel those behemoths into the store and block all the aisles so I can’t even get to the stupid yoga pants that my little niece likes to wear so much. And I want to go ape on them and swing my purse in their faces and crack that botox forehead they got.

    And thanks for the welcome.

  40. I, like everyone, have always wndered what’s the deal with the awful editing in action movies these days, I remember when I saw the original Bourne Identity I thought the action scenes were confusing even then

    I know that if I ever have success as a filmmaker I will make sure to return to a more old school style of action sequence

  41. Jareth Cutestory

    July 30th, 2010 at 9:48 pm

    Cosmo: If I knew half the shit that went on behind the production of a major movie production, particularly when it comes to propagating the “brand” of certain celebrities, and the process of casting for the sole purpose of maximizing profit across various demographics, film would probably be ruined for me forever. MULHOLLAND DRIVE would look quaint in comparison.

  42. Griff – Which is interesting you say that since it always occurs to me that IDENTITY’s editing plays more and more better each time I see it on television, especially compared to the recent big budget actioneer editing jobs.

    That said, REGENERATION certianly was like a bitchin’ throwback reminder right?

  43. nabroleon_dynamite

    July 30th, 2010 at 9:59 pm

    Vern drop kicked me out of the review with 2 words…

    “Larry Seinfeld”

    It’s Jerry, Jerry, Jerry!!

    The seinfeld nerd in me can’t let that ol’ bullshit slide son!!

  44. Woah there, Vern. I just wanna make sure of one thing: are you lumping Bay and Greengrass together out of some assertion that they output similar quality (which I totally cannot support), or are you just trying to assert that Greengrass has established a style that others copy poorly, and thus make action cinema worse (which I would totally believe)? I know some people rip on the fights in Bourne Supremacy as being confusing & disorientating (and I won’t lie, some of them are), but the car chase in Russia was an instant classic, and there are like three sequences in Bourne Ultimatum that are even better.

    Unless I am gravely misusing your search functionality – which is possible, as I have had quite a bit to drink tonight (and at least once accidentally searched Amazon when I was trying to search for a review) – it looks like you haven’t reviewed any of the Bourne movies. Have you seen them & just haven’t reviewed, or are they just things you’ve passed over?

  45. ducki3x – If I remember correctly, Vern likes those BOURNE movies just maybe doesn’t handjob it as much as most do. So I would assume it means he liked Greengrass’ work in those sequels, even if most people who do copy it really either do it poorly or miss the point other than just tossing the camera around.

    I am surprised that Vern never did review GREEN ZONE though. I would figure that would be something that Marxist would have tackled by now. ;)

    nabroleon_dynamite – No soup for you!

  46. well to be fair RRA it has been a while since I’ve seen it

    hey Jareth Cutestory, since I’m dead serious about trying to become a director one day, I’m going to have to embrace that madness, I’ll send you a post card

  47. All right, now that we’ve all seen Salt, let me ask what I’m forgetting: The head of a Russian spy program decides that the best way to activate his sleeper agent is to blow the whistle on her to her national security coworkers? Couldn’t he have waited 10 minutes and caught her, y’know, on the other side of all the locks and guns?

    Only explanation I can come up with is that he was providing an alibi for her to elude her coworkers – i.e., letting her use the “I have to save my husband because I know you’ll take him in” line. Which is kinda crap. And why would it matter – once you’re known to kill some heads of state, you’re the office pariah wherever you work.

  48. Inspector Li – I think the movie wanted us to believe that he wasn’t sure if she was still loyal and/or up to snuff after all those years, so blowing the whistle on her was like a test to see if she could still get the job done with the CIA up her ass. That was kind of a logical brick wall for me as well, especially when she shows up at the boat and he says something to this effect and she’s cool with it. But then the tables started turning so fast that I rolled with it, and in the end it all kind of made a ridiculous sort of movie-logic sense (I think)?

  49. Duck – Don’t worry, I didn’t mean anything that crazy. Greengrass and Bay are obviously opposites in most ways. But Bay popularized the disorienting quick edits and Greengrass popularized the post-action shakycam. I do think his Bourne movies (haven’t seen the others) are pretty good and the most action-like of the post-action style. Some of the fights and chases are even exciting although I honestly believe if it was an actual documentary of a real life event it would have steadier camerawork.

    RRA – I was excited to see GREEN ZONE because Helgeland wrote it, but then two of my Greengrass worshipping friends said even they couldn’t tell what was going on in the last half hour because it was like the Bourne movies but at night. So that’s scared me off so far. Also, from what I understand, he figures out that there are no weapons of mass destruction! Glad somebody blew the lid off of that one.

    Inspector Li – was it because the real plan was for Winter to set off the missiles and she was supposed to take the fall? I’m just guessing, I got no idea really. I’m not sure it made any sense.

  50. Vern – don’t let your friends scare you man. Say no to peer pressure. Until INCEPTION came along I thought GREEN ZONE was the movie to beat in 2010. And I have gotten into the habit of citing the climactic nighttime chase scene as an example of Greengrass exercising an unlikely precision with the shaky-cam style. There’s like four people involved in one chase, it’s at night, the location is very generically ghetto and all looks the same, and the average cut probably lasts half a second… but I always had a sense of action geography and knew where each character was relative to the others, even when all I had to go on was subliminal blurs. Whatever Greengrass does, he’s basically perfected it by now. Which I can’t at all say for QUANTUM OF SOLACE. That car chase at the beginning of the movie is completely incomprehensible. Pontecorvo and Friedkin may have been shaking cameras when Greengrass was in diapers, but he’s pioneered a style to a certain extent. And I dig it, even if I think it’s had a negative impact on the way others shoot action.

  51. caruso_stalker217

    July 31st, 2010 at 1:30 am

    I work at Wal-Mart and I tell you people will find any goddamn place to stop and have a conversation. It’s moved beyond the sidewalk. People do this shit in the middle of the fucking parking lot. Saw a woman one day standing right in the path of traffic, bullshitting with some friend of hers. A guy turns in, she’s right in his fucking way. She turns to look at the car, stares for about three seconds, then goes right back to talking. The guy has to drive around her.


  52. caruso_stalker – in that situation I would have honked my horn until the bitch moved

  53. Salt doesn’t hit the UK until the end of August (released the same weekend as The Expendables…hmm) so I kind of skimmed a lot of the review in case of spoilerage.

    However, good call on “Post Action” – a coined phrase that I shall be using myself in future reviews. I totally agree that Quantum of Solace was Post Action – especially when the film sets up a Big Shootout in an Opera house, only to show a quick short-hand montage as if they just…couldn’t be bothered. And it’s not as if it were a particularly long Bond outing…

  54. Oh man, I could rant all day about pavement etiquette. My personal bugbear is when people bump into you (as is common in London) and then look at you as if to say “watch where you’re going”. We bumped into each other you twat, if you could see me, then why didn’t you move? Then there’s people who walk three abreast down a busy street far slower than anyone else, making everyone else have to walk around them. I also hate people who stop in a supermarket aisle with their trolley blocking the entire way for everyone else. I just don’t understand how some people can be so absorbed in themselves that they either don’t notice anyone else around them, or worse, do notice but just don’t care.

    As for the film, thought it was rubbish.

  55. I worked as a mailman for a while, so I had to spend lots of time with my bike on the pavement. Of course I always was care- and respectful, but one day an old guy yelled at me, because he saw me riding my mailman bike in the opposed direction of a one-way street. BUT I WAS ON THE PAVEMENT! I wasn’t going in the wrong direction on the street. But seriously, nobody else cared, because it was my fucking job to ride a bike on the pavement! You just can’t ride it on the street when you have to deliver letters to every single house! Even the police knew that! But this old guy didn’t.
    Also, while I agree that (normal) bikes belong on the street or the bikeway, it’s often not that easy. I don’t know if this is just a German habit, but many car drivers apparently think that traffic rules don’t apply to cyclists! You have to stop your car when a pedestrian crosses the street, but when you want to make a right turn and a cyclist is next to you and wants to to go straight ahead, it doesn’t matter, even the bike has priority! You see a cyclist on the streets, riding so much on the right that he is almost already scratching the parked cars with his handlebars, just to give the cars on the street as much space as possible? Whatever, just honk when you are right behind him, because why the fuck is a fucking bike on the fucking street? The street is for cars, y’know!
    And then are the bikeways always blocked by something, mostly parked cars! When people clean the pavements, they brush all the garbage, especially when it’s shattered glass, on the bikeways. Because the pavements have to be clean, y’know. And when it’s snowing? Whatever? Free the pavement from the snow and push it on the bikeway, because who is riding a bike when it’s snowing anyway, right?

  56. People who get off the bus and stand immediately absolutely still, looking left and right, deciding what to do. Take a step forward, you fool, and then decide on your direction…

  57. Gwai Lo and Vern, thank you. I’m not sold on a solution yet, but those are less aggravating than “because the filmmakers think you don’t care about motivation so long as she’s in action.” Or post-action.

  58. Great review, ta.

  59. Another waste of Andre Braugher. So disappointing.

  60. The post-action idea is interesting but I’m not sure if I agree. I don’t know if it’s so much that the filmmakers are trying to hurry past the action. I think it’s more than filmmakers are trying to jump on the shakey cam bandwagon and don’t know how to do it right. It’s made worse when, say, they hire a director like Marc Forster who does not have a background in the genre and thus unsurprisingly doesn’t know what he’s doing. (I wonder if when he watched QUANTUM OF SOLACE, if he can tell what the hell is going on? Does he realize how incoherent the action scenes are, or did sitting in a editing room with that film for a few months teach him how to decode it?)

    See, I don’t want to write off the whole shakey-cam/fast-cutting/intensified continuity type of action filmmaking, because I’m a big tent kind of guy and I think it can be done well, even if it usually isn’t. I know lots of people disagree with me, but I think Paul Greengrass has actually done it very well, especially on ULTIMATUM. I’ve watched that movie I’d say 4 or 5 times and I think it’s probably the best action movie of the past decade. I never have any trouble following the action in it because it looks like he took great care in the editing process to select shots with clear subjects and put them together in a logical, understandable sequence. I think the action in that film fully utilizes the style to create a sense of energy and motion, without any of the incoherence that often afflicts it when in lesser hands.

    I would like to see more action movies with their cameras locked down and an average shot length of more than half of a second, but just doing that doesn’t automatically make the action scenes any better. We can agree there are plenty of action movies from the 70s, 80s and 90s with extended shots and cameras on tripods that still have shitty action. welcome all kinds of styles. The key is more filmmakers need to learn how to do their chosen style well, be it old fashioned or newfangled.

  61. If you write another book Vern, you should devote a section of it to a bit essay about the problems with post-action and steps that can be taken to avoid it. Something to get some sort of catharsis over this, lest you turn into a terrorist leader who tries to get his demands met by taking over a movie lot, leading to a Die Hard-in-a-movie-studio situation where an ex CIA explosive expert now working as a pyrotechnics guy has to take you down despite not having a problem with your philosophical ideas, just your methods.

  62. Jareth Cutestory

    July 31st, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    Griff: If the Mob sits your film-directing ass down in some boardroom and insists that you put a dimwit starlet in your upcoming film, I hope you do the honorable thing and take a golf club to his car. You can count on me to give you a few bucks to hold you over in a cheap motel until the Cowboy gets his hands on you.

    Gwai Lo: Since you’re keeping score of “films to beat” in 2010, I have to ask: did you see that French horror film 7? If so, where did it fall on your list? Also, your data will be incomplete unless you sit through PAUL BLART MALL COP.

    But seriously, your description of the action sequences in GREEN ZONE could also apply to REC 2. People will be discussing th the Major Spoilery Plot Point in that film, not the handheld.

    Dan Prestwich: I agree with you that fast editing and quick camera movement can be both beautiful and thematically significant, like in Maddin’s BRAND UPON THE BRAIN!, where desire and memory are depicted using a very careful kind of jerky quick cut and repetitive edit that could probably be called hyper-Eisenstein dream montage.

    I think further work needs to be done to define “Post Action,” or at least to explain how it differs from classic montage, avid farts, grand mal editing, fakeumentary, et cetera. Also, some poor bastard should probably establish a scale of good and bad uses of each technique (ie. MILLENNIUM = good; POTEMKIN = good; DOMINO = crime against nature.)

  63. I haven’t seen 7, hadn’t even heard of it until this moment now that you mention it. Another high-ranker would be WINTER’S BONE. And since it got a wide release in 2010 (but I saw it on the festival circuit in 2009) I should mention A PROPHET, because it’s a masterpiece and better than anything I’ve seen on offer this year. Even INCEPTION.

    And PAUL BLART was 2009, thank Christ.

  64. Jareth – do you have an IMDB link for 7? I can’t seem to find it.

  65. One possible reason for this ‘post-action’ trend, as evinced from several cinematographer/editor colleagues, is the exponential rise in digital editing (on Avid, or Final Cut Pro) in the last fifteen years, where film editors are working off smaller and smaller screens and have the raw memory to keep trying out all sorts of random edits that would have proved far too time-consuming and costly if one were working solely on a Steinbeck.

    For my money, A-team is this year’s worst offender, though.

  66. I lived in NYC for eight years before moving to Portland, OR. I went from roving groups of idiots blocking my every move to people that move faster than me! Oops. Also, the whole angry bikers thing is really sweeping the nation. I’ve noticed it in PDX and NYC, which is really silly since both cities give bicycles plenty of love with lanes and such. Maybe they think that complaining is working, and if they do it even more they’ll get cars and walking illegalized.

    As far as SALT goes, I saw it in a loud NYC theater, and it was fun. At the end when they very obviously set up a sequel, some dude in the audience yelled “I smell sequel!”

  67. Do they set up the sequel by introducing Salt to her new partner, James Pepper?

  68. Jareth Cutestory

    July 31st, 2010 at 6:45 pm

    Stu: Salt n’ Pepper! Let’s talk about sex, bay-bee.

    Gwai Lo: My mistake: the film is actually called 7 DAYS. The copy I was given just had a big old number 7 on it.

    Here’s what Bloody Disgusting had to say:


  69. Jareth Cutestory

    July 31st, 2010 at 6:46 pm

    Gwai Lo: Also forgot to mention, I’d be curious to know what our resident expert on intelligent science fiction (ie. you) thought about SPLICE.

  70. cosmosmariner1979

    July 31st, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    @ Stu – her partner ought to be played by BARRY Pepper. (har har har)

  71. They need to get Salt n Pepper to reunite and do like a commissioned official song for PEPPER or SALT 2 or SALTY or whatever.

  72. I’m actually of the opposite opinion that bicyclists should stay off the street. (Keep in mind that I live in Colorado Springs, an area with VERY little pedestrian traffic) Too many people like to ride their bikes in the middle of traffic which wouldn’t be so bad if they could actually keep up with traffic. What’s even more retarded is that there are actually BIKE LANES! So it would make sense to me that if there is a bike lane then maybe you should ride your bike in the fucking bike lane. Just a thought.

    I’ve never been to New York and I was pretty young when I visited Seattle so I can’t comment on the bike situation there but here I would say that if you’re riding a bike you should definitely do it on the side walk or the bike lane. Or better yet, take your surroundings into consideration and choose which option would be safer and more convenient for yourself AND those around you.

    As for Salt…If it weren’t for Redbelt I wouldn’t have much interest in watching this. He’s the only reason I saw 2012. Well, him and Cusack.

  73. Jareth Cutestory: do you mean THE mob? like the Tony Soprano kind? oh noes!

  74. Thanks for the link, 7 DAYS is now officially on my radar.

    I thought SPLICE was pretty good, but never really rose above what was expected of it. I think the story was pretty predictable, but maybe that’s just because I’m used to this type of thing. (SPOILERS from here on out) I’ve read a few reviews that think the third act went to some pretty shocking places, but as soon as those two blobs with stingers started going at it (an awesome scene, BTW) and someone explained that the female had turned male, the ending was telegraphed to shit. And if I recall correctly Brody/Polley never do the mandatory head-scratching to figure out “gee-whiz maybe our little experiment is going to do the same thing here.” I’ve read comparisons to RE-ANIMATOR (which makes sense as they’re both essentially FRANKENSTEIN updates), but RE-ANIMATOR really pulls out all the stops in its climax and SPLICE just ends with a bit of a whimper in the woods somewhere. It could have used a bit of the ol’ Grand Guignol at the end, I was fully expecting Dren to get loose in the city or the lab or somewhere a bit more populated than the middle of nowhere, but it never happened. She had wings! Fly somewhere you crazy hosebeast! Budget constraints maybe?

    Underwhelming ending aside, there is a certain comfort in a science-run-amuck movie like this just hitting all the right notes in the right order without screwing anything up too badly. It was a pretty polished movie overall. The creature effects were great. I liked Brody (I suspect we’re seeing Adrien Brody’s real t-shirt collection in the movie), Polly was kind of annoying, but tolerable. Both characters did come dangerously close to being unrealistically illogical by the end. I wouldn’t cheat on my wife with a genetic abomination, for instance. But it’s one of those movies where the characters have sufficient motivation but every single fucking thing they do makes you go “No. Bad idea. Don’t do that. Goddammit you idiots.” so it’s hard to define where that illogical line is drawn.

    This is kinda making it sound like I didn’t like it. I did. I think it’s a better movie than SPECIES, for instance, even with its lack of Henstridgetitties. And as a matter of principle I like that it got a wide release, even if it didn’t do all that well. It’s a solid B B-Movie. Whereas RE-ANIMATOR is a solid A B-Movie.

  75. I’m afraid it can’t be be better than Species because of it’s lack of Henstridgetitties

  76. Darth Irritable

    August 1st, 2010 at 6:39 am

    Off topic – I’m in India at the moment – it’s like they’ve got the Vern channel here: I’m watching Mortal Kombat, up next is Dragonball: Evolution, and Universal Soldier: The Return is pending.

    Seriously – Vern: internationally prescient, or what?

  77. Jareth Cutestory

    August 1st, 2010 at 9:42 am

    Gwai Lo: From a thrill perspective, there isn’t anything in 7 DAYS that wasn’t handled better in LADY VENGEANCE, but 7 DAYS does beg a fascinating question: how much significance and thematic weight can you invest in the violence of a genre picture (in this case the revenge sub-genre) before the picture mutates into a drama. Also, 7 DAYS answers the less compelling question: what would ANTICHRIST look like if it was done by a more mature Eli Roth.

    Your comments on SPLICE are great. Pretty much my exact response to the film. I was also surprised at Polley’s weak performance; she’s usually much better. I think the creature effects were more effective than anything paraded across the screen in AVATAR, and the last showdown didn’t bother me. But, like you say, the film really didn’t re-invent the wheel.

    Also, the building that was used as an establishing shot for Polley and Brody’s apartment is two blocks from where I live.

    Still, I’ll be there for SPLICE 2: A DREN IN THE CITY. Can’t say the same for AVATAR 2: BLUE LAGOON.

    Darth Irritable: I don’t know if it’s still the case, but ten years ago Bruce Willis was the biggest American star in India, bigger than Tom Cruise, bigger than Schwartzenegger, Pitt, James Bond, the whole lot of them. When a Willis film was released in the local theaters (usually censored), they’d darken his skin every so slightly in the poster to make him even more relatable to the audiences. It was kind of cool.

    Griff: According to some people, the mob pulls a lot of strings in the movie world; just ask Favreau and Ben Kingsley. Personally, I hope this is true. I like to think that somewhere out there a couple of goodfellas are getting into a heated discussion about who should star in the FELICITY re-boot.


  79. I liked Polley in Splice. The part’s kind of treacherous, as she’s constantly doing things that the movie demands but you can’t get behind, and the rockstar-scientiest-with-dark-childhood-roots history was dubious. That said, she made all the character’s hairpin turns ring true for me. Plus she’s got an aura of braininess that gave the bad practical/emotional decisions more weight.

    Also, re Jareth’s establishing shot: In Salt, Jolie’s apartment building was my last home in NYC. They definitely niced it up since I left; guests always loved the bulletproof glass around the security desk.

  80. Jareth Cutestory

    August 1st, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    Inspector Li: In fairness to Polley, I’ll admit that she did much better with the more demanding stuff later in the film. It’s the carefree stuff earlier on that I just didn’t buy. Brody, though, really impressed me, as did Delphine Chanéac.

    That shot in SALT where she’s jumping from ledge to ledge without shoes above the courtyard of your old apartment was well shot, and the physical performance seemed effortless. I wonder if they used wires or computers or something.

  81. Gwai Lo: Reg. Splice, I kept thinking of something James Cameron says on the Solaris commentary: “That’s men for you, huh? So what if she’s made of anti-matter, he’ll still fuck her.”

  82. Hence Jake Scully fucks a Na’vi.

  83. Jareth Cutestory: I’ve heard that rumor too, after all I watched the Sopranos (remember Cleaver?) here’s hoping I don’t wind up sleeping with the fishies

    Gwai Lo: nice Leonard Cohen reference, I suppose you sat through the end credits of Watchmen too?

  84. The Indian mob runs Bollywood for sure.

    So yes, they bankrolled superman the dancing musical.


  85. “–CASINO ROYALE, with its breathtaking parkour chase, is an action movie. QUANTUM OF SOLACE, with its eyeball-punishing car chase, I consider post-action.”

    Fucking THANK YOU. I thought I was alone in this. I know people who can’t understand why I can’t stand QoS. To them, Casino Royale and Solace are like twins.

  86. i’m going off topic here, but why haven’t you reviewed “A bittersweet life”?, man you gotta…!!

  87. – Ivan

    I`ll second that!! A Bittersweet Life has some of the best shoot-outs since Hardboiled (imo).

    I agree with post-action being caused by digital editing. I actually thought that Quantem of solace had some cool bits in it, like when he arrives at the hotel and checks out the rooms and all that old-school bond-style-stuff, so I bought it on dvd. I had to watch the carchase in the beginning several times to comprehend exactly what was going on, and the more times I watched it, the more I began to enjoy it. It is a marvellous piece of editing, when you watch it the tenth time. But then again, who does that except the director and the editor? The opera-shoot-out is still the most horrible, pretensious, lame action-scene ever, though.

  88. Post-action also comes from trying to get a PG13 rather than an R, IMO.

  89. Am I the only one who’s just not into Miss Jolie? She looks deformed. Also I ain’t gay or nothin. Though I am sure it would be fine if I was, just sayin. More of a Jennifer Tilly man myself. Though I can’t see her making a rocket launcher out of anything.

  90. just remember, OLEG LIVES.

  91. Salt was a fun if ultimately pretty forgettable movie. It reminded me a bit of goofy, 90’s high concept actioners like Air Force One. A solid cast to bring it some respectability, decent if unremarkable cinematography, and a neat plot concept to a hang a threadbare story on.

    There were some nifty touches like the pretty awesome stairway finishing move, so I wouldn’t mind seeing Salt 2: Saltier if it’d relish more on the outlandish stuff like that. Angelina would need to gain a few pounds for the role, though. It’s not about the sex appeal but as her believability as an action hero. I didn’t buy her as a super spy any more than I would buy Matt Damon as Jason Bourne circa Courage Under Fire.

  92. With all this talk about Reindeer Games on the main page, I wonder why I gave Salt a pass while hating on R.G.’s ridiculous twists. Both of them are preposterous and ridiculous, and both have “plans” by the villain that had about 2000 ways to go wrong and seemed like more trouble than it was worth. But for some reason Salt just had the energy or something where I kinda don’t even really want to nitpick the flaws after it’s over, I just want to leave it as “yeah, that was ok”. But at the end of Reindeer Games I was left going “hey wait a second….”

    Oh, and Roger Ebert gave Salt four stars. I thought that was a typo too.

  93. So I watched the director’s cut of SALT last night and I think it’s a big improvement on the theatrical version. It’s clear that they made an R-rated movie and then chopped out those precious eighths of a second that made the violence awesome so they could get a PG-13 and attract the 12 year olds who wouldn’t like it anyway. With those frames spliced back in, it’s barely post-action at all. I never felt lost in any of the action scenes the way I did in the theater. Restored to its proper form, I think it’s a damned entertaining and fairly audacious thriller, with brutal fights and a whole bunch of plot developments that go WAY farther than you ever thought they would. I mean, how many movies just SPOILER off the president out of nowhere? And that’s not even the climax? It was a far more interesting movie than MI4, in my opinion. It wasn’t as massive but it imbued what it had with some badass emotionality, and that made all the difference for me.

  94. […] movies with surprisingly clear action, I thought that the worst “post-action” (a term coined by the incomparable Vern) days would be over. Alas, it seems I cheered too soon. “Taken 3″ is again shot in a […]

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>