Does life imitate art, or does art imitate life? Two weeks after the U.S. deported 10 Russian sleeper agents, the largest ring since the Cold War, the new spy movie ‘Salt’ premiered in theaters across America. Angelina Jolie portrays an American suspected of being a spy for the Russian government, much like the self-admitted spies who were arrested by the FBI last month and were later traded for four American citizens. 

Jolie plays Evelyn Salt, a married CIA agent living in Washington, D.C. with her husband Mike Krause (played by August Diehl). When a defector detained by the U.S. government accuses Salt of being a KGB sleeper agent (a Russian spy) planted in the American government to take the country down, she goes on the run to clear her name.  Salt eludes her superiors and escapes to New York City to attend the funeral of the American vice-president.  Members of the Russian government are in attendance, as President Matveyev (portrayed by Olek Krupa) is speaking in memorial of his “closest friend in the west.” Salt works her own secret agenda as she tries to prove she’s not related to the Russian government.

While the role of Salt isn’t gender-specific, as Jolie stepped in after Tom Cruise pulled out of the project, and she wasn’t required to use as much sex appeal as in some of her other movies, including ‘Laura Croft: Tomb Raider,’ she still knows how to grab the audience’s attention. She constantly leaves the audience questioning whether or not she really is a Russian spy, or if her loyalty is with the American government, even at the end of the movie. Continuously lying to everyone around her, Jolie proves Salt can successfully manipulate everyone and anyone into believing what she wants them to.

Not only did director Phillip Noyce make the right decision in casting Jolie as Salt, the movie’s studios, Relativity Media and Columbia Pictures, also proved to make a smart choice by hiring screenwriters Kurt Wimmer and Brian Helgeland. Instead of focusing on the current Iraq war, which many audience members aren’t interested in seeing, as seen with the March bomb ‘Green Zone,’ ‘Salt’ was rightfully focused on Russia instead. 

Since America has had wars with Russia in the past, and many movie-goers don’t want a social commentary on the wars in the Middle East, Wimmer and Helgeland were able to provide an adequate back story to ‘Salt.’ They were able to provide Jolie with enough of a back-story for Salt to make her portrayal interesting and intriguing.  While Relativity Media and Columbia Pictures may have been able to rake in a large gross revenue if they just filled the script with special effects, especially with all the hype leading up to the movie’s release, they chose the right path to not just make another big-budget summer action film. 

While ‘Salt’ was rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action and isn’t entirely suitable for younger teens, Jolie’s fans will definitely be interested in seeing the movie. Action is definitely her strongest genre, and ‘Salt’ proves it. Reportedly performing almost all of her own stunts in the movie, Jolie proves that she is at the top of her game, and should continue with similarly-themed movies in the future.

Written by: Karen Benardello

Salt Movie Poster
Salt Movie Poster

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By Karen Benardello

As a graduate of LIU Post with a B.F.A in Journalism, Print and Electronic, Karen Benardello serves as ShockYa's Senior Movies & Television Editor. Her duties include interviewing filmmakers and musicians, and scribing movie, television and music reviews and news articles. As a New York City-area based journalist, she's a member of the guilds, New York Film Critics Online and the Women Film Critics Circle.

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