Main cast: Angelina Jolie (Evelyn Salt), Liev Schreiber (Ted Winter), Chiwetel Ejiofor (Peabody), August Diehl (Mike Krause), Daniel Olbrychski (Vassily Orlov), Hunt Block (President Lewis), and Olek Krupa (President Matveyev of Russia)
Director: Phillip Noyce
Salt is a ridiculously fast-paced action thriller and it is exactly what it says on the box: enjoy the boom-boom-bang galore but don’t expect too much depth in the movie.
Evelyn Salt is from all appearances an exemplary CIA agent. She risks her life for her country and accepts the possibility of being left for dead should a mission be compromised without any hint of regret or anger. She has a great working relationship with her superior Ted Winter and she also has what seems like a perfect marriage to Mike Krause, a biologist who loves and accepts her as much as he loves his spiders. One day – on her anniversary to boot – in walks a Russian agent, Vassily Orlov, who claims that he wants to defect from Russia and he has crucial information to share with the CIA.
As Salt interviews him, he explains that the President of Russia, who will be attending the funeral of the late Vice President of USA in New York City, will be marked for death by a sleeper Russian agent who has been waiting all this while for his orders. This agent is one of the many spies planted by Russia, leading ordinary lives in various countries until they receive orders to act on behalf of the glory of Mother Russia. Now, some folks in Russia plan to rebuild the country to its former glory and to do this, orders have been sent to these sleeper agents to bring about “Day X”, a day when Russia will plunge the world into chaos and take the opportunity to seize power. The plan begins with the assassination of the Russian president – that guy is too friendly with the USA for the liking of these folks.
At first everyone in the room is like, “How silly! Russian spies killing their own President!” but Salt is shaken when Orlov points out that the spy who will kill President Matveyev is called… Evelyn Salt. At first, she expresses only concern for the safety of her husband, as it seems like her identity has been compromised and used by Russian agents to frame her. But when her fellow CIA agents detain her for further investigation, she stages a breakout and flees, leading her superior Ted and another CIA officer Peabody to wonder whether there may be some truth in Orlov’s words.
Angelina Jolie is a bit too thin to be believable as some kick-ass lady who can kick down men almost twice her size and what not, but she carries her role as the enigmatic Evelyn Salt with poise and the right amount of charisma. What is great about Salt though is that Ms Jolie manages to pull off a strong female lead character pretty well. Salt doesn’t generate into mawkishness or other behavior normally considered stereotypical “acceptable” female behavior. In this one, she manages to exude humanity underneath her ice-cold action woman exterior, without resorting to typical teary moments. When her husband is shot point-blank to death in front of her, for example, you can see the grief and horror on Ms Jolie’s face, and the slight tremor of her lips as she tries to remain calm and emotionless before her superior. That is one fantastic scene if you ask me, because it shows that Salt can be good at what she does even if her heart is torn to pieces, without breaking down into tears like every other so-called action heroines in the past. I also love that while Salt has a husband she shows affection for, she doesn’t let love turn her into an idiot.
Salt may be a fantastic female lead character, but unfortunately, the script could have been better. The movie degenerates into implausible scenes and even plot holes. Ted Winter wants the President dead but doesn’t shoot him dead when he has the chance – what on earth? How and why on earth does a super-protected bunker for the President to have some pathetic weak chink in the wall that allows Salt to gain entrance?
Therefore, if you want to be entertained by Salt – take it as it is: a well-paced action flick with some pretty and well-acted main characters, and that’s all there is to it. Self-proclaimed serious intellectuals should stick to analyze the spinning top in Inception – that should keep them occupied until the next Batman movie comes out.