Salt is an an action movie with, unusually, a female protagonist. Angelina Jolie is Evelyn Salt, a CIA operative who goes on the run after a Russian defector accuses her of being a Russian agent and planning to kill the Russian President during a visit to New York.
Evelyn Salt is almost a female James Bond: a highly attractive agent, well versed in disguises, covert operations, explosives, weaponry, hand to hand combat and other essential spy skills. Unlike Bond, however, her loyalties aren’t clear and the plot has numerous twists, many of which came as a complete surprise to me; it’s certainly not predictable.
Also unlike Bond, the action doesn’t stop for either romance or sex. Salt is happily married and one reason she goes on the run is to find her husband, who disappeared when she was accused of being a spy. However her husband is a secondary character, and the male lead is Liev Schreiber, who I first noticed stealing the film Defiance from Daniel Craig. I like Schreiber as an actor; he’s not flashy but has a strong, masculine presence. His character, Ted Winter, is a senior CIA officer and a long term friend of Salt’s. He’s part of the pursuit of her, not convinced of her guilt but increasingly unsure of her innocence, rather like the audience. There’s a friendship between them but not, thankfully, romance. It’s refreshing to see a film which doesn’t feel the need to manufacture romance between strong and attractive central characters.
Salt has its flaws. The lead character is a little too capable to be believable, even in the context of an action movie; the friend I saw it with was heard to mutter “I think she just jumped the shark” when Jolie’s character jumped onto her third moving vehicle in as many minutes, for example. However, the action moves quickly, Jolie (or her stunt double) handles the physicality of the role well, especially in the hand to hand combat scene near the end, all performances are strong, and the plot twists kept me engaged and interested. All in all, I think it’s worth seeing. Three stars.