Angelina Jolie plays a CIA superspy, in the new movie ‘Salt,' a high-octane action thriller.
Andrew Schwartz/Columbia Pictures - Sony/AP
In her new movie “Salt,” Angelina Jolie is outfitted in blond wigs, black wigs, jumpsuits, pantsuits. She can appear eerily strait-laced in one scene and goth in the next. She’s probably the most dynamic action star in the movies right now and certainly the most exotic.
In “Salt,” she’s playing a role that originally was meant for Tom Cruise; I don't lament the switch. The part could just as easily have been set up for Matt Damon. Although the principal filmmakers – director Phillip Noyce, screenwriter Kurt Wimmer and cinematographer Robert Elswit – seem to have had a “Bourne”-style franchise in mind, their film is a bit too wiggy and perverse for that.
It’s also unapologetically a throwback to cold warriorism. Jolie plays Evelyn Salt, a CIA undercover superspy first seen in flashback being tortured by her North Korean captors – just to set the film’s temperature. (All in a day’s work.)
Two years later, in Washington, D.C., where Evelyn is cozily ensconced with her doting German arachnologist husband (August Diehl), she is named as a Russian spy by a Russian defector (Daniel Olbrychski), who also warns of an imminent assassination attempt in the US against the visiting Russian president.
Denying the accusation, fearful for her husband’s safety, Evelyn flees the CIA’s dragnet and spends much of the rest of the film slicing, dicing, blasting, garroting, slithering down elevator shafts, falling out of planes, and doing high-rise backflips onto speeding semis. And all of this without so much as a smirk. She’s not even afraid of spiders.