The Flick Chicks

Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Salt

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Salt

The Cold War may be over, but that doesn't mean paranoia between our country and the former Soviet Union is dead. Just check out the recent headlines about the Russian spys who were arrested while living and working as U.S. citizens. So, yes, you could say that the release of Salt, a fiction tale that reflects real life events in the news, could not have been more timely.

That brings us to the titled character. Is Evelyn Salt a Russian spy, or is she a patriotic American who has been set up by enemies of the U.S.? That is the ongoing mystery that runs through the minds of audiences and keeps us guessing in Salt, the high voltage espionage action thriller starring Angelina Jolie in the role originally meant for Tom Cruise. He backed out, obviously allowing the character to be rewritten as a female so that Jolie could enter the picture and  she takes command with her imposing presence from the very start.

“I am not a spy”, a battered, bloody, and swollen faced Salt, clad in only bra and panties, cries out to her interrogators as she being tortured in a North Korean prison. Next thing we know she is released as part of a prisoner exchange. Fast forward two years. The setting shifts to Washington D.C where Salt, now married to German born arachnologist husband, Michael (August Diehl), who helped get her released from her former captors, is indeed working as a CIA operative alongside colleague Ted Winter (Liev Schrieber) when a Russian agent named Orlov (Polish actor Daniel Olbrychski) shows up at CIA headquarters wanting to defect. While being questioned he says that an elaborate plan was set forth years ago in which young Russians were trained to infiltrate the CIA and destroy America and that a plot is in the works for one of their moles to assassinate the Russian President during his attendance at the upcoming funeral of the U.S. Vice President. To top it off, he claims that Evelyn is one of his own, has been working undercover and is the Russian spy assigned for the kill.

SALTInnocent or guilty, an accused Salt doesn't stick around waiting to be taken into custody. Instead she decides to go on the run from government agents led by Winter and her superior Peabody (Chiwetel Ejiofor), thereby setting into motion an intense, fast moving cat and mouse chase that keeps you on the edge of your seat.

Angelina Jolie is terrific, never wavering as the sexy, smart, super cool agent Salt, uber-motivated to evade those on her tail and determined to accomplish her mission, although we are never quite sure whether she is the villianness or a heroine anxious to do what it takes to prove her innocence. That is, until the twist at the very end.

Of course, you have to suspend disbelief and just go along with the flow in order to accept the premise that Salt has superwoman abilities and can overcome any circumstance or obstacle that comes her way. As the story unfolds, action sequences has Salt crawling across the narrow ledge of her apartment building high above the ground, leaping on to the top of fast moving trucks, stealing a motorcycle, jumping out of a helicopter and landing in the Potomac River, surviving head on car crashes and walking away with barely a bruise, as if she is invincible. Salt is also one kick ass fighting machine able to display hand to hand combat moves and the cleverness to make self made weapons, such as turning a leg of a table into a bazooka, that can take out anyone who gets in her way.

Director Philip Noyce (Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger) keeps the action coming at a heart pounding rapid pace, working from a script by Kurt Wimmer, that has a mix of elements reminiscent of other movies such as La Femme Nikita, The Bourne franchise, Mission Impossible and The Fugitive.

The storyline is filled with plot holes and implausible events, but those failings never gets in the way to overpower this very exciting and entertaining thrill ride. As a whole, Salt works, thanks to Jolie for delivering the goods (and a lot of her own stunt work) in the best action movie of the summer and cements herself as the queen of the action genre.

For pure escapist fun that is harmless to your health and satisfying, this serving of Salt is one you don't want to pass up. In the end, the door is left open for a sequel. That's cool, since Salt leaves you thirsty for more.