Evelyn Salt (Jolie) is a skilled CIA operative devoted to both her husband (Diehl) and her country. Then a Russian spy (Olbrychski) tells her that she's actually a sleeper agent whose time has come. She denies this to her steely boss Ted (Schreiber) and hasty counter-intelligence agent Peabody (Ejiofor), but when things heat up she runs. Is she up to no good, or is she trying to stop the Russkies' evil plan? Sometimes it seems like even she isn't so sure.
Director Noyce gets things moving early, keeping us and the characters off-balance. Besides building tension, this is also an effective way to distract us from the continual string of logistical inconsistencies and lazy shorthand. Whether this is how Wimmer originally wrote it or it's the result of production tinkering hardly matters, coherence isn't exactly important to Hollywood at the moment.
What is important is having a huge star who can sell the film, and Jolie dives into the role completely. She clearly loves all of the action mayhem, slinky espionage and suggestive glances, not to mention playing a shady action hero who keeps us guessing. Schreiber and Ejiofor are also terrific, adding energy and urgency to their scenes, including some sharp-edged chemistry between them as they bicker about what to do about Salt. Intriguingly--and entertainingly--the most hapless people in the film are the presidents of the US and Russia (Block and Krupa).
Along the way, the action sequences generate some genuine thrills simply because they're so boldly executed. We never doubt for a second that Salt won't make it out of each scenario, but it's fun to watch her ingeniously using Spidey-skills in a lift shaft or going MacGyver to create a rocket launcher from a table leg and a fire extinguisher. The film's steady pace obscures the standard thriller formula, which kicks in more obviously in the end with a series of not-too-surprising revelations. But by then we're enjoying it too much to care.
Run time: 100 mins
In Theaters: Friday 23rd July 2010
Box Office USA: $118.3M
Box Office Worldwide: $293.3M
Distributed by: Sony Pictures
Production compaines: Di Bonaventura Picture, Wintergreen Productions, Columbia Pictures, Relativity Media
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 62%
Fresh: 143 Rotten: 88
IMDB: 6.4 / 10
Director: Phillip Noyce
Producer: Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Sunil Perkash
Screenwriter: Kurt Wimmer
Starring: Angelina Jolie as Evelyn Salt, Liev Schreiber as Winter, Corey Stoll as Shnaider, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Peabody, Daniel Olbrychski as Russian Ex-Secret Agent, August Diehl as Mike Krause, Yara Shahidi as Cleo, Gaius Charles as Todd Bottoms, Victor Slezak as 3-Star General, Cassidy Hinkle as Young Salt, Zoe Lister-Jones as Zoe Kinnally, Nicole Signore as Precision Driver, Mardi Jones as CIA / SWAT team, Nick Poltoranin as Russian Thug #1, Michelle Ray Smith as Lead Technician, Kevin O'Donnell as Francis, Hunt Block as U.S. President, James Schram as Corporal Davis - U.S. Military, Frosty Lawson as CIA Agent, Cecilia Foss as The Ritual Matchmaker, Gary Wilmes as Paul Tracey, Harry L. Seddon as Cop escorting Evelyn Salt from Bombing, Marion McCorry as CIA Director Medford, Victoria Cartagena as Portico Checkpoint Agent, Hristo Hristov as Russian Thug #3, Zach Shaffer as Security Officer, Jewel Elizabeth as Mourning Granddaughter, James Cronin as Joe Oates, Philip Willingham as Camera man, Dionne Audain as Coms Agent / Radio Op, Angelo Lopez as 202. SS Bunker Tech #3, Ivo Velon as Basayev, Xavier Rafael as Secret service agent, William Henderson White as Russian Reporter, Ethan Ladd as 7-year-old Schnaider, Tobias Campbell as 12-year-old Schnaider, James Nuciforo as Military Aide