SALT (2010)

Director: Phillip Noyce

Written by: Kurt Wimmer

Cast: Angelina Jolie, Liev Schreiber, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Daniel Olbrychski, August Diehl...

Runtime: 100 min
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action.

Genre: Action/Thriller/Spy

Reviewed by Larry Jung

It's a bad day for the U.S. Intelligence community and an even worse day for CIA field agent Evelyn Salt, played by Angelina Jolie. A former high ranking Security Officer in the former Soviet Union named Orlov has voluntarily turned himself into the CIA with a fantastic story that the current President of Russia will be assassinated on U.S. soil during the funeral of the Vice President of the United States. He then accuses the CIA's most competent and trusted field agent, Evelyn Salt, of being a double agent claiming that she had been trained as a young girl to be a deep cover mole and is one of many, even hundreds, planted in the U.S. to strike when called upon.

The CIA represented by Ted Winter, Evelyn Salt's boss, and Counter Intelligence represented by Peabody immediately bicker over what to believe. Peabody wants to immediately detain Salt as a precaution and take over the investigation. Winter reluctantly relents though protests Salt's innocence. While this is going on, Winter and Peabody have made two mistakes. Both have underestimated Orlov and Salt. Orlov, with some fancy footwork, easily escapes from the CIA. Salt also proves that being surrounded by a squad of heavily armed agents and barricaded in a high-rise building are only inconveniences as she too escapes the CIA and Counter Terrorists agents.

From here on the story is Salt being chased and occasionally captured, only to escape to fight another day. The question is whether Salt is a double agent and where do her loyalties ultimately reside. We learn that she married a German National as part of her cover, but that she was also in love with her husband.

The movie works as a vehicle to show off Angelina Jolie's prowess as an action movie hero. She looks convincing in the hand-to-hand combat. She looks like she knows how to shoot and kill with all sorts of lethal automatic firearms. The plot of her loyalty and true identity gets lost in the hail of gunfire and chase scenes. But this is not a bad thing. This is a good guys vs. bad guys movie. And director Phillip Noyce is right on target with the bad guys being the good old reliable Russians, our former Cold War adversaries. Movies and books have tried to replace the Russians with Communist Chinese, North Koreans, and Islamic terrorists with moderate success. It seems only the Russians are worthy foes. We as an audience believe they are motivated to any extremes to bring down the United States and its way of life.

For a summer shoot-them-up movie, I give it a solid B. It is not in the caliber of THE EAGLE HAS LANDED, THE DAY OF THE JACKAL, and THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE to rate an A. Nothing in the look or the story gives SALT its own signature like the early James Bond films and the Jason Bourne films. In my opinion SALT relies on Angelina Jolie to sell the movie. So for you Angelina Jolie fans, the ending sets up SALT for any number of sequels.

CAUTION: For those with a SPIDER PHOBIA (arachnophobia), the first part of the movie has several scenes with live spiders.

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