directed by Philip Noyce
(Sony, 2010)

The plot for Salt would have made a perfect James Bond movie. Keep that in mind and you'll have a good time with it. Expect it to make sense and tell a story in a linear fashion and you'll miss out on something that would have made Bond look pretty darned good.

A defecting high-ranking Russian spy by the name of Orlov (Daniel Olbrychski) walks into a CIA office and tells them a ludicrous story: one of their own agents is one of several Russian sleeper spies who are planted within the U.S. security network. That's not the least of his bizarre claims: this sleeper agent, Evelyn Salt (Angelina Jolie), will assassinate the Russian president in a few days at the funeral of the American vice president. Internal security takes the threat seriously, forcing Salt to go on the run in order to protect her entomologist husband (August Diehl), a devoted man who proved his love for her two years earlier when he lobbied to get her sprung from a North Korean military prison. Since then she has worked quietly undercover with her partner, Ted Winter (Live Schreiber), processing intel. Until, of course, she is fingered in this outlandish story.

Or is it outlandish? Is Salt a double agent, or a triple one? The truth, as it turns out, is very complicated (think Manchurian Candidate). CIA agents want to interrogate her until they can clear her. Salt wants to find the man she loves, who has mysteriously gone missing. The gritty chase sequences tear through the streets of Washington and New York as Salt remains one step ahead of the CIA, the Secret Service and a group of holdover Russian agents from the Cold War days, while desperately bargaining for her husband's life.

Noted action director Philip Noyce (Patriot Games, Clear & Present Danger) delivers another lean, mean, fighting machine of a movie. Interestingly enough, this movie was supposed to have had Tom Cruise in the starring role as Edwin Salt. Why the change was made, I don't know, but I am glad it was; otherwise, Salt would simply have been yet another conventional thriller. As it is, both Jolie and the somewhat twisted but still entertaining plot deliver up a clean, adrenaline-laced action film with lots of terrific editing and fantastic camera work, worthy of the sort of movies Stallone and Schwarzenegger have starred in. The plot is preposterous but intriguing, the action a nonstop rollercoaster that's organized with precision, and Jolie is her usual captivating self. Let's face it, the woman could make reading a phonebook sexy, which is pretty much the whole point of this movie: to give her a chance to do what she does best, and that's to kick some ass, get in and out of some pretty tight scrapes, and look great while doing it. Just don't look too closely at the plot.

review by
Mary Harvey

23 July 2011

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