2010 Certificate: 12


Angelina Jolie is Evelyn Salt, a CIA operative who goes on the run after a Russian defector outs her as a Soviet sleeper spy. Hopping across freeway traffic, diving off subway trains and fisticuffing all-comers, she has to deploy all her skills as a covert spook to elude Chiwetel Ejiofor's persistent CIA man and the deadly attentions of a mysterious Russian spymaster. Pleasingly preposterous and the perfect platform for Hollywood's only convincing female action star, it's a thriller to be taken with a hefty pinch of salt. And that's a condiment.


  • Philip Noyce


  • Angelina Jolie

  • Liev Schreiber

  • Chiwetel Ejiofor

  • Yara Shahidi


As far as Hollywood action men go...take your pick from Arnie, Sly, Bruce, Jason, Dolph, Jean-Claude, Mickey, Jet, Gerard, Clive...

But laydeez?

Well, at the moment there's Resident Evil's Milla Jovovich, Avatar's Zoe Saldana and Tomb Raider herself Angelina Jolie.

Of the the illustrious trio, Jolie is the only one you would entrust with a Hollywood blockbuster and so it came to pass she was cast as crack CIA agent Evelyn Salt (Jolie had actually mentioned to a studio bigwig that she wanted to be a female James Bond).

Everything is tickety-boo. She's hitched to a loving German arachnophiliac, able to squeeze into a pencil-thin skirt and she's trusted implicitly by her CIA bureau boss Ted Winter (Schrieber).

However, her world falls apart when Russian immigrant and wannabe defector Vassily Orlov (Olbrychski) strolls into the CIA's Washington DC office and announces to all and sundry he's dying of cancer...and that she's a Soviet sleeper spy.

Panic ensures and Salt totters towards the door in her heels...and is soon clambering along window sills, playing stepping stones on lorry roofs clattering down the highway and TWOC-ing an unwary biker before heading off into distance.

Her destination is New York, where a hidden network of sleeping Soviet era spooks plan to take out the Russian prime minister when he attends the funeral of the American vice-president. But riddle me this? Is Eve there to save or slay him?

Rewritten for Jolie after Tom Cruise passed on the role (his identity-switching Mission: Impossible latex face is riffed on), this is firmly Bourne territory with a feminine twist (but little humour) as Salt has to rely on her raw wits and military training to keep one step ahead of an enemy that might be an ally.

Director Philip Noyce, who made the impressive Jack Ryan actioners Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger, keeps the well-greased tension racked up even if the plot does outlandishly spin off into a turbo-charged conspiracy thriller with the US president the ultimate hit.

Jolie is pretty much perfect for this sort of role, virtually wordlessly despatching assassins with machine guns, grenades, fists and - in one particularly wince-inducing scene - with a taser.

It's not subtle and the plot stetches credulity - one of the strengths of the Bourne films - almost to breaking point with a climax that is only just salvaged by a wicked plot twist which involves Jolie morphing into KD Lang.

And that's a condiment.

Tim Evans