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Vol. LXIV, No. 30
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
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For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

KEEP YOUR @$!%& HANDS OFF OF ME: Evelyn Salt (Angelina Jolie, center in handcuffs) is finally caught by the police, who in addition to handcuffing her are obliged to physically restrain her in order to prevent her from fleeing. To see how this all turns out, see the movie.

Salt: Jolie Stars as a CIA Agent — Turned Russian Assassin

Kam Williams

From Tomb Raider (2001), to Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005), to Wanted (2008), Angelina Jolie has always delivered in her adventure films, and Salt is no exception. This espionage thriller about a Russian mole planted in the U.S. couldn’t be more timely, given the recent arrests and deportations of alleged spies to Russia.

Art imitates life in this political potboiler revolving around the exploits of Evelyn Salt (Angelina Jolie), an orphan programmed to kill by the KGB during her childhood in the Soviet Union. After the Cold War, she emigrated from Moscow to America where she successfully infiltrated the CIA.

At the point of departure we learn, via flashbacks, that Evelyn is so tough that she never cracked while being water-boarded and beaten by interrogators, who didn’t believe that she was in North Korea on business. She was subsequently freed after her fiancé, Michael (August Diehl), pressured the CIA into making a prisoner exchange.

Fast-forward to the present where we find the couple settled down in Washington, D.C. and about to celebrate their wedding anniversary. Evelyn now has a quiet desk job at the Agency, while her arachnologist husband has just published a book about spiders.

Everything is turned upside down when a Russian defector (Daniel Olbrychski) walks into CIA headquarters announcing that he has information about an elaborate plan to destroy the United States that is on the verge of being implemented. He is questioned rather reluctantly by Agent Salt with help from a couple of skeptical colleagues Winter (Liev Schreiber) and Peabody (Chiwetel Ejiofor).

However, everyone takes Mr. Orlov seriously when he passes a lie detector test and starts sharing some startling information about the existence of a sleeper cell of spies that is led by an assassin named Evelyn Salt. When she hears this, Evelyn asserts her innocence and flees the building in the first of a series of death-defying escapes.

The chase is on, although it remains unclear whether Evelyn is on the run to clear her name or is following orders from the Kremlin. As much as the premise might sound like a cross of The Fugitive (1993) and No Way Out (1987), Salt comes across not as a cerebral mind-bender, but more as a display of seemingly physically impossible acrobatic stunts.

Nonetheless, this spectacular movie, that features a beautiful two-fisted femme fatale, offers precisely the sort of roller coaster ride that is a welcome diversion in the middle of a sizzling summer.

Very Good (3 stars). Rated PG-13 for violence and intense action sequences. In English and Russian with subtitles. Running time: 99 Minutes. Distributor: Columbia Pictures.

For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

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