Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Directed by Phillip Noyce.
2010. Rated PG-13, 100 minutes.
Angelina Jolie
Liev Schreiber
Chiwetel Ejiofor
Daniel Olbrychski
August Dehl
Hunt Block
Daniel Pearce
Olek Krupa
Andre Braugher

Evelyn Salt (Jolie) works for the CIA and has endured a lot for the good ol’ USA. Still, one day a man claiming to be a Russian defector shows up at the agency and says that she is really a spy from his homeland. Naturally, more and more doubt is cast upon her allegiance to the stars and stripes as parts of the man’s story seem to check out. Of course, through much mayhem and Houdini-like escapability, she gets away from the law and goes on the run. The question is whether she’s trying to clear her name or commit the assassination the defector says she will.

This is a movie filled with breath-taking stunts, brutal fight scenes and narrow escapes. There’s hardly any “down time” but what little there is perfectly sets up what’s to come. It also gives us just enough insight on the title character for us to care. No, we’re not talking grade A character development, but it’s more than sufficient for an action flick.

Helping all this out are a few very deftly performed sleight of hands that keep us guessing what’s really going on. Eventually, it’s not enough, but only because the number of possibilities is limited, at best. There simply aren’t enough characters to keep the mystery going. To keep the ruse up as long as it does is remarkable.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t compliment the star. This is not a role which will get Angelina Jolie nominated for an Oscar. However, it’s a role she plays perfectly. It helps that the role is tailor-made for her. I’m hard pressed to think of another woman who could do the role justice with both her acting and athleticism. Uma Thurman? Milla Jovovich? Lucy Liu? Kelly Hu? I say maybe on all of them, but no doubt on Jolie.

In the end, Salt is very much a female version of The Bourne Identity. You can knock it for that and for the ending blatantly setting us up for a sequel. And frankly, the program said to be causing all this trouble is a flimsy foundation for a story. All of this would drag down a lesser movie. I didn’t mind any of them because they’re all minor and the movie is slick enough to overcome its faults. The overall ride is just flat out fun, even though it is undeniably preposterous. Question my judgment, if you must, but I loved every second of it. Why yes, I am anxiously awaiting that sequel.

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