As CIA mole Evelyn Salt, Jolie bounces off more moving vehicles than a beanbag, and never gets hurt.
She just leaps from truck top to truck top, then hits the ground running, grabs a fur hat and is instantly in disguise as a Russian spy fashion plate immersed in a plot a fraction as complicated as “Inception,” but still confusing.
Director Philip Noyce (“Patriot Games”) keeps her hopping from a torture scene in North Korea to her outing by Russian defector Orlov (Daniel Olbrychski) to thwarting a nuclear holocaust when one of her CIA buddies goes bad. Switching attitudes from Vampira to Joan of Arc, Jolie’s Salt has the audience guessing as to where her allegiance lies. Which is apparently the point of Kurt Wimmer’s script.
Also in the dark are her CIA colleagues, Ted Winter (Liev Schreiber) and William Peabody (Chiwetel Ejiofor), who have the tough task of chasing her, while trying to figure out where she’s coming from. Star that she is, Jolie holds the audience’s sympathy throughout the bouts where she may be a baddie.
What’s important is that she is single handedly carrying the torch of international female action star, made more significant since she usurped the “Salt” part from once reigning action king, Tom Cruise.
The question is… whom would you rather watch on the run, Cruise or Jolie?
The answer be may as definitive as “Knight and Day,” the Cruise actioneer that did dismal box office. In its second week out, “Salt” is hanging on at number three ($19.2 million), with “Knight and Day” nowhere in sight.
Of course, “Salt” has the added benefit of a recent Russian spy scandal in the headlines. The only thing rubber about the real spies is that they were bounced back to the motherland. Movie Queen Jolie gets to keep making the big American bucks.