Ahh, now this is kind of a bittersweet movie. See I first saw this movie as part of a date but unfortunately, things did not work out with that girl. As I was walking through MovieStop one day, I saw this movie and had a serious debate on whether or not I should buy it. In the end, I did end up buying it, as I had enjoyed watching it, so let’s see if I made a good choice as I watch today’s movie, Salt.
The plot: Evelyn Salt is being tortured in a North Korean prison for being a spy, despite her protests that she isn’t one. Some time later, she is being released as part of a prisoner exchange and is met at the DMZ by CIA agent Ted Winter. As they are heading towards the border, Salt reveals that she is a CIA operative when she asks Ted what is going on, as policy dictates that she would have been left to rot in prison in order to maintain deniability. Ted says he had nothing to do with it and motions towards the border, where Salt’s fiance Mike Krause is waiting, and tells her that he raised such a public outcry that the CIA were forced to do something. Two years later, Salt is preparing to go home for her anniversary when she and Ted are called back to deal with a defector that walked into the building. As they head to the interrogation room, they are met by Counterintelligence officer Darryl Peabody, who is there to listen in on the interrogation. Salt heads in to begin the interrogation of the “defector”, Oleg Vasilyevich Orlov, who tells her about a Soviet Cold War program to install sleeper agents into the US and that one of those agents, KA-12, will be activated to kill the Russian president while he is in the US. As Salt goes to leave the room, Orlov says that the name of the sleeper agent is Evelyn Salt, causing Peabody and Ted to keep Salt from leaving while they get Orlov out of there. Salt demands to be able to use her phone to call Mike and Peabody watches her and has her put it on speaker so he can listen in, then has her go into the interrogation room so he can talk to her. Orlov kills his escort and escapes the building and while Ted and Peabody deal with that, Salt leaves the interrogation room and tries to make it out of the building. When they lock the building down, Salt disables the security cameras then uses some cleaning chemicals to fashion a rocket, which she uses to take out the security team trying to capture her, and manages to escape. Salt heads to her apartment and finds evidence that Mike was kidnapped so she grabs a change of clothes, a pre-packed bag and weapon, then grabs one of Mike’s spiders and their dog and climbs out the window before the CIA get there. Scaling the side of the apartment building, Salt manages to get the attention of a girl doing her homework and asks her to take care of her dog for a little while. Salt heads for a subway station but Ted spots her and gives chase and as she is boxed in, she tells Peabody and Ted that they should be worried about someone trying to kill the Russian President but she has to find Mike, then jumps off the overpass onto the roof of a passing semi. Peabody and Ted try to give chase but Salt manages to leap from vehicle to vehicle before grabbing a motorcycle and escaping as they get caught in traffic. Salt heads to New York City, where the Russian President is attending the funeral of the Vice President. As Ted and Peabody help the Secret Service keep an eye out for Salt, Salt causes a distraction on the subway to get the maintenance tunnels underneath the church. Making her way inside, Salt takes out the security she encounters and as the Russian President is giving his eulogy, she detonates an explosive that causes the floor to drop down into the basement, where Salt injects him with a syringe full of spider venom. When Peabody shows up, Salt gets the drop on him but chooses to allow herself to be arrested, and Peabody questions Ted as to why she did that. As Salt is taken away into police custody, she manages to escape and make her way out of the city, where it is revealed in flashback that she really was a sleeper agent. Salt meets up with Orlov on an abandoned barge and he greets her as reports come in of anti-American protests in Russia as the new president vows to strike back for the attack. Boarding the barge, Salt asks about her husband and Orlov shows him to her before having him killed and when Salt shows no emotion, he is satisfied that she has truly rejoined them. Orlov explains the next mission for her and as they toast each other, she kills Orlov, then kills the other KA agents that are on board. After pausing to stare at Mike’s body, she heads to the rendezvous for the mission and meets with agent Schneider, who has become a NATO liason to the White House. Schneider uses his credentials to get Salt inside, then activates a suicide bomb in his chest to cause a distraction, allowing Salt to make her way through the White House and into the elevator shaft that the President is using to head to his secure bunker. Inside the bunker, the President receives word that the Russians are moving their nuclear arsenal and the President orders America’s arsenal to be readied. When all of the security protocols are finished, Ted suddenly kills everyone in the secure bunker except for the President, revealing that he is also a KA agent. Ted then sets the US missiles to target Tehran and Mecca as Salt shows up and she is shocked to find he is a KA agent. Ted explains that his actions are step 2 in the attack on the US, and Salt asks to be let in but a news report broadcasts that the Russian President is still alive. Ted tells Salt that he was the one that told Orlov to break her cover and kidnap Mike and Salt manages to break into the bunker and begins fighting with Ted. Salt manages to get the upper hand on Ted and stop the launch but is taken prisoner by the secret service, who manage to break into the bunker. As Peabody heads down to the bunker, he tells his assistant that they need to find the rest of the KA agents and his assistant tells him someone already did, saying that someone killed several men, including Orlov, on a barge just as Salt walks by and winks at Peabody. As Salt is led past Ted, she leaps at him and uses her handcuffs to strangle Ted. Salt is taken to a helicopter and questioned by Peabody but when he receives word that her fingerprints are on the barge, he believes her when she says that she plans on killing the rest of the KA agents and punches her in order to disguise his unlocking her restraints then tells her to go get them. As they fly over the Potomac River, Salt opens the door and jumps into the river below, then makes her way to shore where, after catching her breath, she begins running through the woods towards her future.
Salt met with mixed to positive reviews from the critics, holding a 62% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is that, “Angelina Jolie gives it her all in the title role, and her seasoned performance is almost enough to save Salt from its predictable and ludicrous plot.” Originally, the role of Salt was written for a male lead, with Tom Cruise being cast in the role, but when he backed out, it was re-written for a female lead and Angelina Jolie was cast. The movie was a mild hit at the box office, earning $293.5 million off of an $110 million budget.
This is a pretty decent thriller that is a real throwback to some of the Cold War era spy films from the 60’s and 70’s. The acting was good, with Angelina Jolie (Salt), Liev Schreiber (Ted), and Chiwetel Ejiofor (Peabody) did good jobs in their roles. The plot was actually a pretty basic double agent story with a revenge aspect thrown in as Salt had grown to enjoy the life she was living and hated Orlov for taking it from her. While I did like the remnants of the Cold War era story line, it felt a little weak at times. The special effects, primarily the fight scenes, were pretty well done and didn’t try to do anything too over the top so as to make it more realistic, which made the movie more enjoyable for me as I liked the realism. All in all, a decent thriller and worth a watch if you are in the mood for a spy movie.
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5