Angelina Jolie is surely the only contemporary actress in Hollywood who truly convinces as an action heroine. Despite the tabloid’s continual discussions about her weight, there is little doubting her conviction or believability in her role as Evelyn Salt, a CIA operative forced to go on the run after she is accused of being a Russian Spy.
Jolie, as ever, is on form, and whilst comparisons may be drawn between Salt and her character in Mr and Mrs Smith, Evelyn Salt is a harsher, crueller character, far more callous and entirely casual in her actions. Salt kills without remorse, and at times largely due to the nature of the plot, is difficult to connect to as a lead. The audience is largely unaware of her motivations, and this lack of insight and understanding makes it difficult to truly empathise with her plight.
Salt’s only apparent motivation, despite her cold exterior, is to rescue her husband: an unexpected, progressive role reversal not often featured in film. Salt may not make any great bounds in generic film convention, but its female lead is inspired enough to forgive a fairly lazy script. Tellingly, the lead character was originally written as a male part, further highlighting the largely sexist nature of female roles in film; it took a part written for a man to create a strong female lead.
The action set-pieces may not be hugely inspired, yet they remain ever visually pleasing, made all the more entertaining through the gender of the lead; Salt is as capable as any man, not since the days of Ripley or Sarah Connor has such a female action heroine existed.
Kurt Wimmer’s (Equilibrium) screenplay is paced well enough to ensure its audience isn’t left with the opportunity to question the gaping plot holes; Salt’s pace is often frantic at times, plying the audience with almost relentless action sequences. It certainly isn’t good enough to join the ranks of Die Hard, Wimmer’s script is more comparable to the Geena Davis film The Long Kiss Goodnight, it makes no real pretensions or attempts to ever better itself. Salt knows what kind of film it is: action packed escapism, and to its credit, succeeds within its self-imposed genre expectations.