Director Philip Noyce keeps the action red hot for a laughably implausible espionage story about Angelina Jolie's Russian double-spy character Evelyn Salt. The movie kicks off in a North Korean prison cell where "Salt" is beaten bloody in her filthy white underwear by her sadistic captors. This is torture porn light.
Good thing that Evelyn's adoring German arachnologist husband Michael (August Diehl) arranges a spy trade deal through Salt's CIA boss Ted Winter (Liev Schreiber). Salt and her CIA cohorts interrogate a Russian defector named Orlov (Daniel Olbrychski), who accuses agent Salt of being a spy before escaping.
It's also Salt's chance to make her getaway. Jolie exerts her signature catlike physicality to great effect in pulse-racing chase scenes and fast-twitch fighting sequences that fill up much of the film's 100-minutes.
Screenwriter Kurt Wimmer's stunt-heavy story doesn't allow room for such luxuries as humor or audience empathy with its quick-witted mercenary protagonist. It seems like the producers want to pursue Salt as a female Jason Bourne-type franchise if Jolie's star power is strong enough to warrant it. It's a worthy goal that could work with a better screenwriter who can play more with things like intention, subplots and tone. Grade: B-
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