Originally written for a male actor, this movie was famously rewritten when Tom Cruise passed on the role and the gender was swapped.
Angelina Jolie took the part, playing the titular character Evelyn Salt, a CIA field based employee. It is difficult to imagine any other female actor being able to carry off the role.
When Salt and her partner Ted Winter (Liev Schreiber) interview a “walk in” defector, he casually announces that the US has a deep cover Russian agent about to assassinate the Russian President, in town to attend the funeral of the US Vice President.
The assassins name is Salt, Evelyn Salt which makes for a difficult end to the interrogation.
Suddenly under suspicion, Salt decides to run and run she does. Jason Bourne with longer hair and better dress sense. Resourceful and masterful at armed, unarmed and anything in between combat. Suddenly possessing the knowledge to create weapons out of a few industrial cleaning agents and a plastic tube. Later, leaping from one speeding truck to the next on a freeway full of vehicles in a desperate bid to escape capture.
If she is not a Russian mole then CIA basic training must have been very thorough.
There is some impressive real world stunt work and whilst there may be wires wiped in post production, someone is doing this stuff and it is refreshing to see a less CGI green screen approach.
Salt goes rogue, very rogue, with the CIA including Peabody (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and latterly the Secret Service, chasing her across a Washington landscape. Her partner Ted in hot pursuit, vainly pleading her innocence despite growing evidence to the contrary.
Salt is suspected of being the deepest of moles, groomed from an early age, following the death of her parents in Russia. Trained specifically to carry out a spectacular act of terrorism against the USA. She discovers or already knows, there are lots of sleepers, trained from birth to attack the US when “awakened” from their sleeper state by their mentor Vassilev Orlov (Olbrychski).
Is this really Salt, well she certainly does nothing to dissuade that viewpoint, in fact quite the opposite.
Plot spoilers would be necessary to give too many details but essentially this is a chase movie with a neat twist, which those who watch these type of movies may spot. More superficial and action based than the much older “No way Out”, whilst certainly no “Inception”, the thin plot messes with your head just enough to matter.
Director Phillip Noyce keeps the action humming along in the modern style, getting up close and personal, with a variety of camera techniques, including first person running and shaky cams. It looks good and is exciting in a preposterous daft movie kind of way.
Certainly if this was all preplanned and preordained in Russia, there must have been a lot of meetings, as chance certainly appears to play a large factor. No matter, this is fun and Jolie pulls off the required physicality of the role and makes a believable assassin dispatching or disabling opponents, with consummate ease.
Not as complex and troubled as Bourne but effective nonetheless and an opening has been left, with a totally implausible ending, for a further adventure.
Healthy box office returns might suggest that more Salt for audiences around the world is required, therefore we may get another pinch or two.
Preposterous, implausible fun, with good action sequences and some neat twists, which don’t necessarily make sense.
Not the best in the genre but certainly worth spending some time in Salt’s exciting and extremely competent company.