Does Andre Braugher show up on the cast list of your big budget Hollywood blockbuster? I'm sure he won't last very long. Still, even knowing from the outset that Braugher would most likely bite the bullet at some point during Phillip Noyce's Salt, I was shocked at how little time he actually stuck around.
Braugher first appears at 1:09:27, during the action film's big climax sequence in the underground defense systems of The White House. Not that you would know it, but Braugher plays the Secretary of Defense. You'd also be hard-pressed to actually see him on first sight since he merely walks by in the background.
At 1:09:52 Andre Braugher has his first - and only - line of dialogue: "President, I strongly recommend that we go from defcon 4 to defcon. At least at our forward bases." I have no idea what any of that means, but even a moment a minute later, where he's on two phones at once, he doesn't get to say anything. The Secretary of Defense is, apparently to be seen and not heard. And even then...
It was at this moment where I tweeted this (ignore the typo, please):
It turns out the answer was "not very long!"
At 1:13:03, a mere three minutes and 36 seconds after first appearing on screen, Andre Braugher's character is shot and killed after throwing himself onto the President to protect him from the gun-wielding terrorist. Poor guy.
And with that I can only begin to wonder what sort of crazy script rewrites and post production chainsaws in the editing room there were during the making of Salt.
Apparently I am not the only one who has questioned this, as this article by Scott Mendelson at Salon can attest to. I, too, noticed the way Chiwetel Ejiofor's character vanished for the almost entire third act and how the violence seemed to just keep on going forever. Alas, it was indeed Braugher's quick, near non-existent role, that made me question what on Earth went on during this production. I seem to vaguely recall reading about trouble bubbling on the set during production, but all I have distinct memory of is the initial casting silliness (Angelina Jolie subbed for... Tom Cruise?)
The film itself still somehow manages to scrounge up some entertainment due, I assume, mostly to Phillip Noyce's expertise behind the camera. The action scenes are mostly exciting and even as the preposterous nature of it all keeps on escalating, there's fun in there. The plot can be telegraphed from a mile away and the less said about that opening scene and that ending ("Next week on...) the better. Sloppy is a good word to describe Salt, but sometimes I'd rather that than, say, Prince of Persia. B- / C+