Film Review: Angelina Jolie Spices Up 'Salt'

"Salt," the new Angelina Jolie movie, opens with a prisoner exchange. Jolie’s character, Evelyn Salt, is a CIA agent who is being exchanged by the United States government for a foreign agent. That exchange brings Salt back to the CIA, where she works as a well-regarded expert on Russia. However, back at work, it is revealed that Salt may be hiding some secrets about her true identity.

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Those secrets and the movie's twists make “Salt” a solid thriller that is peppered with exciting action sequences.

When Salt returns to the United States, she is returning to her loving husband, who enjoys studying insects on the dining room table, much to Salt's disapproval. Salt returns to the CIA where she works with Ted Winter (played by Liev Schreiber). The two of them are preparing to leave the office one day when a man walks into their CIA office and says that he has Russian intelligence that he wants to share with the United States.

Salt is called in and interrogates the mysterious man trying to determine whether or not he is telling the truth. After a few minutes in the interrogation room, Salt prepares to leave when the Russian man tells her about a plan to assassinate the Russian president during his visit to the United States. He names the Russian spy who is preparing to carry out this secret plan: Evelyn Salt. Salt then quickly falls under the suspicion of some of her coworkers.

Some people believe that Salt is telling the truth but others question her motives for running away from the CIA after the revelation. Through a series of twists and turns, the audience is left wondering if Salt really is the traitor that she is accused of being.

“Salt” is undoubtedly an action movie. Most of the movie focuses on CIA officers chasing after the main character to find out her true identity. These action scenes are fast-paced and enjoyable and Angelina Jolie does a good job in the lead role. We’ve seen Jolie as an action star before (in movies like “Tomb Raider”) and she seems very comfortable jumping off of bridges, running away from the police and attacking an army of Secret Service agents.

Unfortunately, one of the problems with the film is its overuse of action. The movie starts out with some exposition and then jumps to action mode and stays in that mode for a long time. I wish some of the action sequences were separated by more scenes focused on the plot and characters. We know some things about the characters but the relationships are not explored as well as they could have been if the movie focused less on car chases and more on dramatic scenes that would have made the action scenes more interesting.

“Salt” is one of those movies that thrives on surprises. The movie is built around the concept of an audience trying to figure out who Salt really is. The movie veers in different directions to make the audience question their original judgments about her. Is she truly a Russian spy or is she being set up? Is she trying to find out who was setting her up or is she just trying to fulfill a plot set in motion by the interrogation sequence at the beginning of the film? Did something change in Salt when she was being held hostage? The movie has a lot of twists and turns. Some twists are predictable but others come from out of nowhere but are nevertheless believable.

Evelyn Salt is able to survive a lot of crashes, bruises and attacks. She does this without receiving many injuries. “Salt” is the kind of action movie where the hero (or maybe villain) at the center can survive a lot of things, including a lack of character development.

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