Movie Review: Salt

I love sleeper spy agent movies! Salt was non-stop action even though its run-time was only an hour and thirty-nine minutes, which in my opinion definitely goes to show that longer isn’t necessarily better as is the case with many inflated Hollywood movies these days. The spy-thriller plot is complex enough to keep you guessing, and Angelina Jolie turns out a great performance in this film, mixing in a little Lara Croft with some Mrs. Smith action from her acting repertoire. Although it’s only rated at 58% on the Rotten Tomatoes tomatometer, I still enjoyed it from start to finish.

Evelyn Salt is a CIA operative, sworn to defend her country. When a KGB defector shows up at CIA headquarters and says that Salt is a trained Russian sleeper agent (insinuated into American society as a child as part of an elite operation), who is going to kill the Russian President, Salt is immediately on the defensive. She wants to make sure her husband is safe so she breaks out of lock-down causing a massive full-on agent chase with some nice trailer-truck leap-frogging stunts. In a complete reversal of what I expected (that she was a good guy), she makes her way to NY, assassinates the Russian President, and then turns herself in. Escaping police custody, she meets up with the Russian defector on a barge where he kills her husband in cold blood. Masking her devastation, Salt learns that it is all part of a greater plot to kill the US President and start a multi-nation war to bring down the United States. She eliminates everyone on the barge, and heads to the White House to stop a series of carefully pre-planned events involving a lot of sleeper Russian agents like herself. In a heart-stopping sequence from where one of the Russian spies makes a move on the US President, Salt makes it to the safe-bunker where she learns that her CIA partner is also part of the Russian mission, and is about to set off a nuclear missile. She breaks in and stops him but not before the SWAT team takes her down, believing her to be the bad guy. In the end, she manages to escape with the reluctant help of the main agent in pursuit who believes her account of what really happened.

There aren’t a lot of special effects or CGI, just awesome plain vanilla action that keeps you on the edge of your seat. I found Angelina Jolie’s performance as a spy to be exactly what it needed to be – great fight scenes, decent acting with not a ton of needless dialogue, and a great poker face. She is a spy after all! The convoluted conspiracy theory plot had me guessing as to where Salt’s loyalty lay, but in the end, she did prove to be one of the good guys and saves the world from nuclear disaster. I loved the twist where she shoots the Russian President with a paralysis toxin from a spider, because she knows that if she doesn’t do it, someone else will do it for real. I thought the fleshing out of the real plot (complete world anarchy) was believable, and Salt ends up being the rogue Russian-turned-American spy who brings the whole conspiracy down.

Overall, Salt was good, mindless but engaging fun. As an action film, in my opinion it held its own against the Bourne movies or even the James Bond franchise. Just because Salt’s a chick doesn’t mean that she can’t lay a good beat-down on the bad guys. Cool, action summer flick, plus the boys will like the part where she, um, takes off her undies to block a surveillance camera. Part Bond, part Basic Instinct, what’s not to like? I would rate Salt 3 and a half out of 5 stars.

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