Published Aug 17 2010, 12:25 BST | By Ben Rawson-Jones Director: Phillip Noyce
; Screenwriter: Kurt Wimmer
, Brian Helgeland
; Starring: Angelina Jolie
, Liev Schreiber
, Chiwetel Ejiofor
, Alex Pettyfer
, Gaius Charles
; Running time:
99 mins; Certificate:
Trust Angelina Jolie
to leave a trail of panting men in her wake. The summer of 2010 was supposed to be a testosterone-fuelled action extravaganza, with the likes of The A-Team
and The Expendables
muscling their way into cinemas. Those turned out to be flaccid duds, so be grateful for the feminine wiles of Jolie. Her deliciously ambiguous turn as government assassin Evelyn Salt spearheads this riveting action thriller, which also benefits from clinical direction and a plot that keeps the viewer guessing.
The storyline for Salt
is extremely contemporaneous given the recent uncovering of several Russian superspies living on US soil. For Jolie’s Salt is a highly skilled CIA officer who is accused of being an undercover Soviet agent by a defector. A lie detector test (but sadly no Jeremy Kyle) seemingly confirms that the truth is being told, along with confirmation that a hit on the US president is imminent. Yet Salt pursues a strange path to pursue her innocence, blasting her way out of CIA HQ and undertaking all types of MacGuyveresque machinations to keep her American colleagues at bay. Could it just be that Salt really is a very bad girl indeed?
Salt’s motives are frequently scrutinised by both the audience and the government cronies (Liev Schreiber and an underused Chiwetel Ejiofor) on her trail. Such a guessing game benefits hugely from Jolie’s chameleonic attributes as an actress, as she effortlessly flits between a seductive nature and a cold, callous demeanour. At times, you can easily buy that Salt is a 'spider lady' - who devours her mating partner after enticing him into the bedroom. Yet elsewhere, she easily elicits a collective 'awww' after rescuing her cute little dog to protect him from a trigger-happy SWAT team trying to infiltrate her flat.
Unsurprisingly for a former Tomb Raider, Jolie also excels in the action sequences, which mainly consist of various chase sequences. Philip Noyce's slick but unobtrusive direction ensures that all of these set pieces feel fresh and don't outstay their welcome. There is hardly a wasted shot, which befits such a tautly structured script. The pulsating soundtrack also assists in piling on the tension, which only briefly dissipates during a slightly underwhelming climax.
Often evoking the engaging espionage of the TV show Alias
, but with a vastly inflated budget, Salt
deserves to carve a path through the likes of BA Baracus and Sly Stallone to pick up the crown for this summer's top action flick. With plenty of backstory left unexplored and an ending that leaves plenty of narrative threads hanging, let's hope that the sublime Angelina Jolie returns for further adventures as this intriguing character.> What do you think of the movie? Share your views