out of Five
Running time: 100
Despite some credulity-stretching plot turns and a script that's slightly more predictable than it thinks it is, this is an entertaining, fast-paced thriller with exciting action sequences, a gripping set-up and a terrific central performance from Angelina Jolie.
What's it all about?
Directed by Phillip Noyce (re-teaming with his leading lady after 1999's The Bone Collector), Salt stars Angelina Jolie as Evelyn Salt, a lifelong CIA agent who has recently married her only-meant-to-be-a-cover arachnologist husband (August Diehl). When Soviet defector Orlov (Daniel Olbrychski) walks into CIA headquarters and surrenders, Salt is tasked with interviewing him but events take an unexpected turn when Orlov accuses her of being a Russian sleeper agent and says that in a few hours she will assassinate the Russian president.
Fearful that Orlov's comrades might have harmed her husband, Salt goes on the run, nimbly evading her gobsmacked CIA boss (Liev Schreiber) and dogged counter-intelligence officer Peabody (Chiwetel Ejiofor). But is she really one of the good guys or was Orlov right after all?
Angelina Jolie is terrific as Salt, completely selling the central is-she-isn't-she hook (the film cleverly toys with the idea of having her as both hero and villain) and kicking some serious ass in the fight scenes; she also proves she's up there with Tom Cruise when it comes to cool looking on-screen running. In addition, there's strong support from the always excellent Schreiber and Ejiofor, while Olbrychski makes a suitably sinister villain – his character even gets a comic book style supervillain name.
Noyce keeps things moving at breakneck speed and delivers some thrilling action sequences, whether it's Salt leaping from truck to truck, jumping down a lift shaft or fashioning a makeshift rocket launcher out of a table leg, a fire extinguisher and some cleaning products.
Despite plot twists and contrivances that even the makers of 24 would reject as being too far-fetched (e.g. at one point Salt successfully disguises herself as a man), this is still an enormous amount of fun. However, it's probably best just to go along for the ride and not try and second-guess yourself, plot-wise, as at least one twist will be immediately obvious to anyone who a) is paying the slightest bit of attention or b) has ever seen a film before.
This is a hugely enjoyable slice of action nonsense with a proper movie star performance from Angelina Jolie. More Salt, please.