"Just let me find my husband."
Who is Evelyn Salt? What we do know is she works for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Two years ago she was captured by the Korean authority. She was later released at the political prodding by her soon to be German arachnologist (that's the study of spiders for you non-scientists out there) husband.
Hers is my favourite type of government agency--where everyone is really good-looking. At the forefront of course is the titular Salt (Angelina Salt). One of her top secret skills must be to look as though she just stepped out of a photo shoot. In all seriousness, she is one of the CIA's top agents; a master of linguistics, firearms, and scaling buildings and leaping off bridges onto moving vehicles. All the while wearing heeled boots.
The film, which is essentially a one hundred minute chase scene, allows for a brief reprieve at the onset before fully delving into the action. Here we sit in with the CIA as they interrogate the Russian defector Orlov, who informs Salt, Ted Winter (Liev Schreiber) and Peabody (Chiwetel Ejiofor) of Day X, a Russian plot to (what else?) destroy the United States. Salt is pinned as the mole in this operation, which sets off the aforementioned cat-and-mouse excitement.
The story is nothing new; SALT's formula is one we've seen before. But the blueprint here is strangely done to perfection. Jolie of course is easy to look at, but the film offers enough to question what you just saw--I'll admit to being confused a few times. Day X involves the activation of a number of sleeper cell agents spread out around the States, an eerie coincidence with the recent revelations in the news.
I mentioned the action earlier, and it is indeed top-notch. Even more impressive was the apparent lack of need of computer-generated imagery (CGI) throughout. When we see Salt accomplish these miraculous feats, they are still grounded by the look of realism. Salt herself is a combination of Jason Bourne and MacGyver. Escaping from police custody, even breaking into the White House is of no consequence. She can as easily create a bazooka from a fire extinguisher, a table leg, and a medley of cleaning solutions, as she can tie her shoes.
Schreiber, one of the best character actors today, is his usual convincing self. Ejiofor is also appreciable, though he has more of a thankless role. He is seen in the opening twenty minutes and the closing ten; I would like to see him carry a film more often. It's not spoiling to tell you Salt ends with a leap from a tall place, and on a cliff-hanger. If it performs well at the box-office, sequels will be in the works; it certainly has franchise potential.
Is Evelyn Salt a national hero, or a traitorous villain? This is the uncertainty that is questioned throughout, and whose underlying themes run concurrently and successfully with the blitzing pace of the narrative. The story is improbable, the action incredible, and SALT is ultimately memorable. We could use more of these films in our diet.