As secret agent Evelyn Salt, Jolie builds a character that is fresh, driven, interesting and not overly complex as she moves through steep emotional challenges. Accused of being a Russian double agent, Salt must prove her loyalty to the U.S.A. while spies, government agents and criminal goons threaten at every turn. Filled with abundant plot twists, SALT is just plain fun.
Jolie asked for the part and got it, giving her the opportunity to become the quintessential secret agent woman. Not only does she play the genre well, she updates and redefines it in the following ways:
Brave with heart
There’s a dramatic moment in SALT where Jolie has the opportunity to blow away a Russian operative. She chooses not to do so. Moments like these help drive the plot, but also give welcome relief from the endless shootout scenes that fill espionage thrillers. Jolie develops human interest in scenes with her gawky but lovable German husband Mike (August Diehl).
Athletic and sensuous
Jolie avoids the scantily clad look of James Bond girls. Her physique and stamina are on display, but not exploited. A satisfying array of stunts – she performs all stunts herself, according to Director Phillip Noyce – can inspire viewers who identify with a brave leading woman. SALT is like the spy film Julia on steroids. Agent Salt runs, leaps, changes her appearance, and gets where she needs to go. Facing life’s daily challenges, aren’t we a bit like her?
Street smart and spy smart
Jolie can wield a machine gun and pick electronic locks. Yet she doesn’t use too many gadgets. Instead, her body is her instrument. Jolie recognizes the threats around her, knows how spies think and what they are likely to do. She acts and reacts.
When spy politics looms in SALT, it’s transcended with smart screenplay by Kurt Wimmer and the able direction of Phillip Noyce (Patriot Games; Clear and Present Danger; The Bone Collector).
Fun on the run
One can see the Bourne Identity influence in Jolie’s heroine on the run. Yet the reasons for her flight, and the unfolding of story, are richer than in the Bourne films. Action flows thanks to film editors Stuart Baird and John Gilroy. Strong performances by Liev Schreiber as Salt’s crafty colleague Ted Winter, and by Chiwetel Ejiofor as determined counterintelligence geek Peabody, are a treat.
With elements of mystery and a dash of Cold War paranoia, SALT ends with the hint of a sequel.
Other distinctive, excellent characters crafted by Jolie include a wealthy British archaeologist in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and a bereft mother in the Oscar contender Changeling. (5 out of 5 stars)
SALT 2010 / PG-13 / 1 hour, 40 min
Cast Overview: Angelina Jolie, Liev Schreiber, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Daniel Obrychski, August Diehl
Director: Phillip Noyce
Genres: Action Thriller, Espionage Thriller