Phillip Noyce's highly anticipated spy thriller, "Salt," offers double the entertainment: adrenaline-pumping scenes and uber-celebrity Angelina Jolie.
The synergy between movie genre and daredevil actress is seamless, translating this movie into a box office success. On its opening weekend, the film grossed $36.5 million.
When CIA operative Evelyn Salt is declared a Russian spy by Russian defector Orlov, she goes underground. Years of training and dangerous missions have equipped her to outrun and outsmart the best.
But why is Salt running? Is she going to assassinate the Russian president who's visiting New York City? Or is she determined to uncover the truth behind an assassination plot and exonerate herself?
Is she a sleeper Russian spy, one who has spent a lifetime in the United States waiting to fulfill her mission?
Salt doesn't say much and her expression doesn't give away her intentions.
Neither the CIA nor the FBI can stop her in her tracks.
The more Salt runs, the more the plot reveals a mission far more sinister than an assassination. Ultimately, like in many spy films, the end is predictable. There are only so many sides a spy may take. But the action scenes develop deftly and decisively, keeping viewers guessing as to what will happen next.
Liev Schreiber plays CIA agent Ted Winter, Salt's partner, who's mystified by her behavior.
But the film's main attraction is Jolie. The actress is no stranger to action films and she has her own signature in fight sequences and stunts.
"I've worked with the same stunt team for 10 years and they've become my family," says the actress. "So I think they get more nervous. When I am climbing out the window to climb on a ledge, the first ones go, 'Whoa, whoa, whoa, wait!' I know that they are going to extra check my harness. They are going to check my safety rig and if they say you can go off that bridge, I'll trust them that it's okay."
Jolie also brings gravitas to this movie. Originally intended for a man, the role of Salt went to Jolie, who infuses the super spy with feminine menace. She is beautiful but not sexual, almost androgynous. Her moves are unfailing, her focus single-minded.
Phillip Noyce's expert hand is clearly behind the camera. The action scenes are reminiscent of Cold War-era spy movies with classic fistfights and kicks, thrilling and unpretentious. There's no space for empathy, sensitivity or forgiveness.
This shoot-to-kill summer flick takes no prisoners.