The trailer and ads ask, “Who is Salt?” When you leave the theater after seeing the film, you are sure who she is — she’s Angelina Jolie — but not what she is. And that’s the big question.
When we meet her, CIA agent Evelyn Salt is being tortured in North Korea, accused of being a spy. She’s sprung from there by her CIA boss (Liev Schreiber), and Mike Krause (August Diehl), a German entomologist she will marry. Fast forward two years. It’s Ev (that’s what they mostly call her) and Mike’s second anniversary and her plans for the evening are interrupted when a Russian defector (Daniel Olbrychski) comes into CIA headquarters to tell a tale of a woman, raised to be a spy, who goes by the name of “Salt.” The chase begins.
Agent Salt proves to be clever, strong, extraordinarily resilient and pretty handy with a weapon….or two….or more.. She bounces around on the top of moving trucks, climbs walls and kills lots of people. Her boss is inclined to believe she is not a Russian spy. But his boss, Peabody, Chiwetel Ejiofor, is not so inclined.
In flashback scenes we’re taken briefly inside the Russian spy kindergartens (that, in their Brit public school ways are not dissimilar to other well-known schools like Hogwarts) where the students learn all about being “real” Americans.
So it goes….but it doesn’t go on and on like so many of today’s films do, as it runs only one hour, 39 minutes. The big drawback to Salt is the complete waste of the terrific Andre Braugher in a very small role.
On the plus side, however, the list is pretty long. Jolie, thankfully, is not called upon to do anything more than be physical, lithe and attractive. She does not have to act. Although director Phillip Noyce keeps the action swift — probably more car chases per minute than Bullitt. Kurt Wimmer’s script defies even the loosest credulity — the phrase “suspension of disbelief” was invented for Salt, But the film is great fun.
For that last reason alone, Salt is a film to see. It’s lots of fun and, in this weather, a fun film in a cool theater is reason enough to go.
Salt is rated PG (parents strongly cautioned)