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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Salt

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


Angelina Jolie stars in the action-thriller "Salt." The Catholic News Service classification is L—limited adult audience.
Angelina Jolie makes a weak script reasonably compelling in "Salt" (Columbia/Relativity). But, though well-acted, director Phillip Noyce's action thriller is also thoroughly violent.

Jolie plays veteran and highly skilled CIA operative Evelyn Salt. When a Russian intelligence officer named Orlov (Daniel Olbrychski) strolls into the offices of the front corporation for which she ostensibly works and accuses her of being a longtime double agent who is about to assassinate the Russian president as part of a plot to destabilize the world political scene, Salt tries to convince her boss, Ted Winter (Liev Schreiber), that the charge is preposterous.

But another of her colleagues, counterintelligence specialist William Peabody (Chiwetel Ejiofor), insists on an investigation. So Salt uses her training to escape from custody and goes on the run. Fearing that the situation has endangered her husband, Mike (August Diehl), Salt tries to locate and warn him. But she also makes her way to New York where the Russian president is scheduled to deliver the eulogy at the funeral of the U.S. vice president.

This leaves Winter and Peabody scrambling to uncover whether Salt is friend or foe, even as they try to recapture her.

The recent arrest of several real-life Russian sleeper agents may make the film's rather paranoid back story of a vast undercover conspiracy more unsettlingly plausible than it might otherwise have been. Yet, Salt's all-but-superhuman abilities as an unstoppable killing machine register as over the top, while the rampage on which she repeatedly demonstrates them will not sit well with many viewers.

And, though Salt is shown to be strongly motivated by marital loyalty, screenwriter Kurt Wimmer has her pursuers express their frustration over her seemingly limitless ability to elude them—as they chase her along a path she litters with corpses—by peppering their talk with numerous profanities.

The film contains frequent violence, some of it bloody, at least 10 uses of profanity, one instance of the F-word and six crude terms. The Catholic News Service classification is L—limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.




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Junipero Serra: In 1776, when the American Revolution was beginning in the east, another part of the future United States was being born in California. That year a gray-robed Franciscan founded Mission San Juan Capistrano, now famous for its annually returning swallows. San Juan was the seventh of nine missions established under the direction of this indomitable Spaniard. 
<p>Born on Spain’s island of Mallorca, Serra entered the Franciscan Order, taking the name of St. Francis’ childlike companion, Brother Juniper. Until he was 35, he spent most of his time in the classroom—first as a student of theology and then as a professor. He also became famous for his preaching. Suddenly he gave it all up and followed the yearning that had begun years before when he heard about the missionary work of St. Francis Solanus in South America. Junipero’s desire was to convert native peoples in the New World. </p><p>Arriving by ship at Vera Cruz, Mexico, he and a companion walked the 250 miles to Mexico City. On the way Junipero’s left leg became infected by an insect bite and would remain a cross—sometimes life-threatening—for the rest of his life. For 18 years he worked in central Mexico and in the Baja Peninsula. He became president of the missions there. </p><p>Enter politics: the threat of a Russian invasion south from Alaska. Charles III of Spain ordered an expedition to beat Russia to the territory. So the last two <i>conquistadors</i>—one military, one spiritual—began their quest. José de Galvez persuaded Junipero to set out with him for present-day Monterey, California. The first mission founded after the 900-mile journey north was San Diego (1769). That year a shortage of food almost canceled the expedition. Vowing to stay with the local people, Junipero and another friar began a novena in preparation for St. Joseph’s day, March 19, the scheduled day of departure. On that day, the relief ship arrived. </p><p>Other missions followed: Monterey/Carmel (1770); San Antonio and San Gabriel (1771); San Luís Obispo (1772); San Francisco and San Juan Capistrano (1776); Santa Clara (1777); San Buenaventura (1782). Twelve more were founded after Serra’s death. </p><p>Junipero made the long trip to Mexico City to settle great differences with the military commander. He arrived at the point of death. The outcome was substantially what Junipero sought: the famous “Regulation” protecting the Indians and the missions. It was the basis for the first significant legislation in California, a “Bill of Rights” for Native Americans. </p><p>Because the Native Americans were living a nonhuman life from the Spanish point of view, the friars were made their legal guardians. The Native Americans were kept at the mission after Baptism lest they be corrupted in their former haunts—a move that has brought cries of “injustice” from some moderns. </p><p>Junipero’s missionary life was a long battle with cold and hunger, with unsympathetic military commanders and even with danger of death from non-Christian native peoples. Through it all his unquenchable zeal was fed by prayer each night, often from midnight till dawn. He baptized over 6,000 people and confirmed 5,000. His travels would have circled the globe. He brought the Native Americans not only the gift of faith but also a decent standard of living. He won their love, as witnessed especially by their grief at his death. He is buried at Mission San Carlo Borromeo, Carmel, and was beatified in 1988. Pope Francis canonized him in Washington, D.C., on September 23, 2015.</p> American Catholic Blog Hope and faith can outshine the darkness of evil. However dense the darkness may appear, our hope for the triumph of the light is stronger still. Though violence continues to stain us with blood, the shadows of death can be dissipated with one act of light.

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