Salt | Action | rated PG-13 (V,G) | starring Angelina Jolie, Liev Schriber, Chiwetel Ejiofor | directed by Philip Noyce | 1:40 mins

During interrogation, a Russian defector accuses veteran CIA agent Evelyn Salt (Angelina Jolie) of being a sleeper agent sent to assassinate the Russian president during the American Vice President’s funeral. Desperate to save her husband before the Russians burn him and prove her innocence to fellow officer Winter (Liev Schriber), Salt goes on the run from the FBI agent (Chiwetel Ejiofor) intent on detaining her, leaving a path of destruction in her wake that makes her look more guilty with each body she drops.

Whoa! Now this is a rip-roaring, full-throttle, high-octaine action movie worthy of a critic’s string of commercial ready adjectives. The kind of movie that’s plot is outrageous enough to be fun, but slim enough to string together a series of improbable, irrestistably fun action set pieces. If you’re already wondering why a Russian sleeper agent would assassinate the Russian president, boy does the movie have an answer for you. If we’re lucky, we get one of these B-grade minded, but A-grade polished movies a year and 2010’s may just be Salt.

A veteren of the Harrison Ford Jack Ryan action movies of the 90s, director Philip Noyce steps into the arena Paul Greengrass currently dominates by bucking the CGI cartoon-like action movie trend (The A-Team, Knight and Day) in favor of a movie with a real, ferocious, gritty feel. It’s a bone-breaking, car-crunching ride that has a good chance of keeping the audience on the edge of their seats. With car cases and shootouts now demonized as an action movie cliche it’s a delight to see one that can pull them off so well it gets you excited about car chases and shootouts again. The more astute filmgoer will notice obvious genre movie demands at work and even more obvious casting that will keep the film from being unpredictable. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t deliver the awesome along the way.

Angelina Jolie completes her action trilogy with this, tracing back from Mr & Mrs Smith and Wanted and I can only hope are more to come. Save for Milla Jovovich, I can’t think of another actress alive who can command an action movie the way Jolie does. Even when it looks like Salt has turned against the audience, Jolie convey’s vulnerability in her eyes that suggests she’s still on our side. Jolie proves to be her most lean and mean ever, a lethal weapon with cat-like reflexes and a Jason Bourne ability to make household items into improvizational weapons. Salt is unstoppable, the kind of hero whose ability to do anything gets me feeling all warm and fuzzy. Salt takes the story very far, effectively keeping us in the dark and questioning the true motives and identity of Evelyn Salt for a good amount of time despite – all movie logic. The mind thinks, “It’s Angelina Jolie, she’s the star, she has to be a good guy – but… how”.

Salt is a quick, nimble, merciless action picture that hits the gas out of the gate and doesn’t back down, taking itself right into the White House before it’s over.  Even if the story doesn’t entirely hold water, the movie fully delivers on the action goods. It’s a cheer-worthy, base-booming, blood-pumping thrill ride well worth taking.

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