A lack of plausibility used to be thought of as a liability in movies. When a critic, or an audience, complained that a plot twist was too luridly far-fetched to believe, that it stretched and snapped the bonds of reality (a rather vague concept, to be sure), that would generally go down as a negative assessment. Over the past couple of decades, though, expectations have shifted. Fantasy has leaked, like an oil spill, into everything, even naturalistic thrillers, and that has changed our relationship to them. Salt, a jacked-up espionage/action machine starring Angelina Jolie as a CIA superstar who may or may not be a Russian mole, is a movie I have no trouble calling flagrantly preposterous and over-the-top - impossible to buy on any sober, adult level. It's like a John le CarrÃ© double-agent yarn compacted into comic-book pulp as if by the makers of Con Air. Yet the movie doesn't pretend to be anything other than that; to call it out for being ludicrous would be like complaining that Superman flies. Besides, Salt knows how to stay one step ahead of you in devious, if jaw-droppingly contrived, ways. The movie is fun, dammit. So who cares, really, if it's trash?
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