By George, I think she’s got it. At last, an Angelina Jolie movie in which her presence does not irritate, nor her character annoy (cut me some slack here, gents; I’m female.) 

Salt is an enjoyable trip back in time to the Tom Clancy golden years, when Russians were bad and planned villainous things using amazing technology plus good old-fashioned techniques like brainwashing, moles, listening devices and torture. It’s a good old-fashioned Cold War movie but updated to include a planned nuclear attack on Mecca and Tehran (just to spice up Armageddon a little). 

If you’ve seen the trailers or heard the ads on the radio, you will get the picture – a man walks into CIA headquarters and denounces Evelyn Salt (Angelina Jolie), trusted CIA operative, as a Russian spy. Salt bolts, ostensibly to protect her husband, professional arachnologist and probably wimpy German Greens voter Mike (the slightly creepy looking August Diehl). But what is our heroine really up to? 

Jolie really does her stuff in this one, and does it well. Her two most famous assets are almost never on view, so she is forced to act and also to be a tough guy. In fact, in one scene she is literally a tough guy, because she has to impersonate a male Russian Army officer. To me, Jolie in drag looks rather like the kind of man one meets behind the bar of a pub with a rainbow flag in the window, but perhaps the Russian Army has a more liberal don’t ask-don’t tell policy than previously suspected. 

And my favourite character in movies like this is always the President of the United States. In these movies – like Air Force One, Independence Day and the rest – the President is a tough guy himself. In this one, he gets to tell a Russian operative threatening him with a gun to ‘go to hell’. Of course, this is pure fantasy, because one can’t help but suspect that in real life the President would excuse himself to go to the bathroom and then hide behind some House Committees afterwards. 

The storyline is that cheerful blend of plausible and implausible that makes movies like this so enjoyable, and there’s a nice twist at the end where the one you least suspect turns out to be the real baddy. Along the way there is hand to hand combat, big guns, explosions, and some climbing along the side of horribly tall buildings and jumping on to moving trucks and motorbikes. The pace never flags; it never bores, and you certainly get your money’s worth. Don’t break a leg going to see it, because the DVD will be just as good, but if you want to go and see a movie that is a bit of non-PC escapist fun, then this might be it.

 

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