Tag Archives: Central Intelligence Agency

Movies on TV…Salt…Slightly over seasoned, completely unhinged (CH4)

18 Mar

I struggle to think of the last film I saw with Angelina Jolie where she wasn’t some sort of femme fatale rampaging through enemy territory guns blazing and fists flailing. From the Tomb Raider franchise, Mr and Mrs Smith, Wanted and even more recently The Tourist Ms Jolie is all action.

Did she take a break in Salt? You wish.

The essence of the plot had Evelyn Salt (Angelina Jolie) as a sleeper agent planted as a child in the United States by an agency of the then Soviet Union and she ends up working for the CIA.

Fast forward quite a few years and a Russian defector Orlov, turns up out of the blue to Salt’s office and is brought in for interrogation led by Salt. He tells a story of children trained by the Soviets as sleeper agents, how they are swapped with the real children of Americans and embedded as sleeper agents. He tells of one child swapped when her supposed parent die on a trip to Russia. The child has been trained as an assassin and  is to be triggered to kill the Russian President, a reformer, who is on a visit to the USA. He reveals the sleeper agent’s name – Evelyn Salt.

Her colleague Ted Winter and CIA counterintelligence officer Peabody (Chiwetel Ejiofor) were observing and a decision is made to detain Salt, and from that point on the film doesn’t not take a breather weaving at breakneck speed through one unexplained and implausible situation after another.

Why did Salt resist being questioned about Orlov’s allegations? Why did Orlov’s visit trigger Salt’s flight? How did she escape form so many well trained agents? Why did she go back to her apartment after fleeing? Why did the CIA not think to send people to her apartment straight after she escaped? Why was her friend and close colleague Winter allowed to join in the hunt?

Escaping from the CIA office Salt then seemingly kicked into her sleeper role mission to kill the the Russian President who was attending the funeral of his friend the Vice President of the USA. Despite the security cordon by the NYPD, FBI, CIA and the US secret service. Salt got into church, blew up the floor beneath the lectern where the Russian President was giving a Eulogy and as he dropped through the floor to where she was, she shot him.

More questions? Why did she go on this mission? How come she was so well prepared? Had she planned for the mission? and the inevitable question how come she outwitted and out fought her way through what were insurmountable odds.

After wrecking carnage at Funeral Salt meets up with Orlov in a hideout he has with the other sleepers who kidnapped and later kill Salt’s husband to test if she is still loyal. He reveals the next part of the plot to Salt, breaking into America’s nuclear bunker, kidnapping the President and starting a nuclear war with Russia. He sets up a rendezvous with a new sleeper agent who will get Salt into the White House. Salt however is not in a forgiving mood and kills Orlov and all the other sleepers in revenge for her husband’s murder.

Why were all the sleepers in one place, had they all been activated at once?  If they were all as highly trained as Salt how come she got rid of them so easily?

In the finale act she meets up with another sleeper who gets her into the White House. This sleeper attempts to assassinate the President by blowing himself up, but ends up triggering emergency procedures that takes the President into a safe room deep in the bowels of the White house. In there it turns out Winter, Salts colleague, is also sleeper. He kills all the agents and with the President all alone tries to force him to launch a nuclear war. Salt who had been trying to breaks into the bunker, finally does so and prevents Winter from launching the missiles.

More questions Was this part of the master plan? Why was Winter allowed to be part of the President’s security detail? What triggered his mission?

After nuclear was is averted. Salt is arrested but before they can take her away in a kerfuffle she engineers  she uses her handcuffs to choke Winter to death.

Why did she kill him? What purpose did that serve? If she hadn’t changed sides he was an ally she could use. If she hadn’t he might have valuable information on the rest of the sleeper network.

She is finally whisked away in a military helicopter, where even more implausibly after all the havoc she’s wrecked she persuades Peabody to release her and she escapes.

Why did he let go ?

I think the film should really have been called Saltyyyyyyy cause it left me with so many Whys?

p.s  The action scenes were great.

 

Homeland Season 2 Finale…1 Brit Down 2 Left Standing

25 Dec
Homeland (TV series)

Homeland (TV series) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have a problem there is now a huge void in my Sunday night’s TV schedule and I am not sure it is going to be filled anytime soon, as  it is going to take something big to fill it.

Yes Homeland Season 2 came to an explosive finale on Sunday and when I say explosive I mean both literally and figuratively. 200 dead and the CIA headquarters in Langley blown apart. Abu Nazir’s wrath reached out from the grave and wrecked annihilation. Did this explosive end redeem Season 2?

After all the plaudits and accolades Homeland gathered in the first season, there was a lot to live up to in Season 2. In my opinion it struggled a bit particularly in the middle. Not because it was was not  great TV, it just that season one was stupendously great and often a great first season is very difficult to beat.

Brody’s suicide bomber plot to kill the Vice President had been uncovered and that pretty much killed off a major plot line and the question was where would it go from there.  There were many sub plots left but none of them alone with enough substance to drive a third season except maybe the mole and that is just what seemed to have happened.

Right from Season one we knew there was a leak in the agency, that deep in the Agency there was a ‘third man’ or men .  Who could be

Galvez -The ‘Muslim’ CIA operative, pretty much always under suspicion by people on the programme. He was fingered as a mole by Carrie when it was thought Abu Nazir has escaped but he would be the obvious answer and would be too pat an ending.

Carrie – Bipolar, scatty and at at times maddeningly irrational. Could she be the mole and she doesn’t even realise it, some sort of split personality manifesting itself as the antithesis of what she stands for?  It would be a big reach, but in the last episode she would have been in a position to move Brody’s car, and seemed to encourage them to leave the hall before the bomb went off.

Saul – It seem’s he is becoming the people’s choice for the Mole. His prayers for the dead at the end of the last episode sent social media into a frenzy as people assumed it was an arabic prayer (it was hebrew), but even if that was a red herring there is still the failed lie detector test from season one. I don’t know if it can be him, he just seems to reliable.

Estes – A mole deep in the top echelons of the CIA. That would hav been a massive coup. There is one problem he is dead and unless the mole plot line ended in season 2 it is unlikely. On a side note we have lost the first of the three Brits on Homeland in Estes (David Hartland). He will be taking Homeland Questions and Answers on his twitter feed on the 26th (https://twitter.com/DavidHarewood)

Quinn – The third Brit (Rupert Friend) in the Mix (alongside Brody and Estes). We all know Hollywood loves its bad guys to be Brits so that’s one thing that swings it in his favour. He is black ops specialist and his past has been kept very quiet. He works for  Dar Adul. Who is he?  Are Quinn and Adul some sort of unit that has gone rogue? Plausible but is it possible?

Whoever it is we know they are able to penetrate America’s most secure facilities and wreck havoc.  Interestingly using Brody’s car to move the bomb pulled him right make into the picture just when he thought his life was all coming together (shades of Arlignton Road there). To compound matters Brody’s suicide tape has been released to the media.

All this gave the end season 2 the massive talking point it needed and redeemed the season while laying the ground for a new season, but in my mind changes the essence of the show.

Brody is permanently tainted and threat to America is now well and truly on home soil turning the programme into a mix of  The Fugitve and 24.

Season 3 is going to be more of a challenge for the writers than the last two seasons, but for me I am still in.

Channel 4…Did Homeland “Jump the shark” yesterday?

12 Nov

Do you remember any of the following

  • When you found out in Heroes that Sylar somehow hadn’t died at the beginning of Season 2
  • In Only Fools and Horses, after Del Boy, Rodney and Grand dad finally became millionaires and then in the next programme had lost it!
  • When Who Wants To Be A Millionaire became a series of endless specials. Husbands and Wives, Mothers and Sons, Celebs, Bosses and Chauffeurs etc…

They are arguably the points at which great shows should have come to a dignified end but refused and ended like the proverbial Grand dad still strutting his stuff at a night club with kids who weren’t born when he qualified for a free bus pass.

Homeland has been a great show, but the lingering question after the Season One reveal was how will they keep the suspense and drama going. We all know knew what Sgt Brody was up to, granted there were still some unanswered questions like, the Mole and why he did it.

This season things have moved on a pace, and a gripping one at that. The CIA found out what Brody been up to, and he’s been turned.  Suddenly the most the remaining underlying uncertainty that propelled the show was rapidly fizzing away, where the taut, tense drama going to come from.

In yesterday’s episode Brody gave up the location the workshop of the tailor who provided the suicide vest to the CIA. He had also made contact with the reporter Royya Hammad (his intermediary to Abu Nazir) while wearing a wire and she had revealed that there was something of interest in the tailor’s workshop. Royya Hammad was latter followed and seen in discussion with a man with a vaguely middle eastern look, whom CIA tried to follow him but lost.

These three sub plots all come together to provide the subtext to the dramatic, unexpected, incredible and arguably  implausible (by Homeland standards) end to yesterday’s episode.

As the CIA agents were searching the Tailor’s shop a number of men dressed in SWAT type body armour and sub machine guns burst in and in the resultant gun fire all the CIA men were shot dead and the invaders retrieved a large case from behind  false  wall and escaped. One of the invaders was revealed to be the man Royya had been talking to.

That many agent killed at one go in a small town. It almost seems gratuitous violence to reboot the show – a “shark jumping” moment, psychological tension replaced by formulaic violence. We will only really know when we see how they follow on next week if this is a real change in the show’s direction.