“Salt” Movie Review

     There are a lot of twists in store for viewers of director Phillip Noyce’s “Salt”, the new action thriller starring Hollywood’s only bankable female action star, Angelina Jolie.  It’s been awhile for Noyce, whose last feature was 1999’s “The Bone Collector”, though he is no stranger to this type of film with credits that include “Patriot Games” and “Clear and Present Danger.”  The action sequences are aplenty and Jolie proves again she is a natural for this type of material.

     Who is Salt?  The film sets out to answer that question when we meet Evelyn Salt, an operative for the CIA who specializes in Russian Counter Intelligence.  When a defector walks into CIA headquarters and Salt is assigned to interrogate him, the film’s plot is set into high gear when the man tells her and the agents watching that Salt is a Russian Spy.  In a summer full of action sequences and CGI effects, Salt is refreshing in that most of the sequences are done the old fashioned way using live action stunts.  Barely 15 minutes go by and you find yourself watching some of the most pulse pounding action scenes this summer.

     Salt is not merely just action, the film is clever as well.  Writer Kurt Wimmer gives Salt plenty of personality and ingenuity throughout.  Many have compared this film to the recent Bond films denoting Jolie as a “female Bond” of sorts.  That couldn’t be more true.  When Salt gets back to her apartment she has a hidden “go” bag which later is revealed to carry everything one could need to be a super spy!  Put it this way, she is prepared for anything, including having the right gear to assassinate the Russian President.

     Much was made during Salt’s prerelease hype of the film first being offered to Tom Cruise, who elected instead to do “Knight and Day.”  Bad move Mr. Cruise.  When comparing the two scripts and the talent behind the camera it shouldn’t have been close.  A quick rewrite for a female lead gave the opportunity to Jolie and she does a masterful job in the role.  The story itself is preposterous but Jolie is a fine actress and blends the dramatic scenes with her physical presence well and that turns out to be the strength of the film. Liev Schreiber and Chiwetel Ejoifor play dueling CIA agents hot on the trail of Salt and the rest of the supporting cast work together nicely. 

     Good Story, Character, and Action are always the recipe for a good summer film and where others have failed, Salt passes with flying colors.  Coming off the high of “Inception” last week, I thought Salt would be an inevitable downer, but I was mistaken.  Perhaps a new spy franchise has been born. GRADE: B