They won't hold her for long: Jolie (center)
by Phillip Noyce
The movie's ad campaign asked, "Who is Salt?" Judging from
the finished film, the answer is "Jason Bourne with a vagina."
Evelyn Salt (Angelina Jolie) is first seen getting the crap
beaten out of her by some very mean North Koreans. From this,
we infer that she is one tough agent. Flash-forward two years,
and "Ev," as her smart, funny CIA boss Ted Winter (Liev Schreiber)
calls her, is pushing papers at CIA headquarters and planning
a wedding anniversary celebration with her doting German scientist
husband (August Diehl).
Hmm, wasn't Jason Bourne's beloved Marie a German?
Soon enough, a grizzled, rogue Russian defector turns up and
makes wild accusations about our heroine, and she's forced
to go on the run. Will she prevent an assassination that might
trigger World War III? Will she keep her husband out of harm's
way? Will she avoid her out-for-blood CIA brethren, including
an especially vengeful counterintelligence agent (Chiwetel
Whether she's making her escape by climbing along a high ledge,
or hopping from an overpass to the top of a moving truck as
it glides past the U-Haul building on I-787—wait, what?—or
stealing a motorcycle on the fly, whatever Salt does, she
does in a big, violent way. It's clear that Salt is a trained
killer who would really like a normal life, but "they" won't
let her. You know, like Jason Bourne.
differs from the last two Bourne films in one important way,
however: It's directed by Phillip Noyce, a cinematic classicist
who eschews the shaky camera theatrics of Paul Greengrass.
You're never confused by the on-screen action.
Jolie is perfect for this material. She has the swagger of
Willis and the cool efficiency of Damon. Best of all, she
can project a combination of vulnerability and intelligence
in the split second before she slaughters a dozen killers
in brutal retribution.
Except for Schreiber and Ejiofor, no one else in the movie
has a chance.
As for the political context of the story, the less said the
better. Ex- cept: Box-office receipts—or the lack thereof—have
proven that moviegoers hate anything to do with the wars in
Iraq and Afghanistan. So how do you make a contemporary actioner
and ignore the current geopolitical reality? Bring back the
The Commie world-domination plot that forms the backstory
of Salt gives off a distinctly Rocky IV vibe.
Here, a fanatical Russian (Daniel Olbrychski) with superior
will engineers shocking victories over decadent Americans
by indoctrinating super-Soviet child warriors and planting
them stateside for decades.
It's no spoiler to say that our heroine defeats them all,
because, like almost every other actioner today, the ending
is a set-up to a sequel.
is a rare movie entertaining enough to merit one.