Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Angelina Jolie Stars in 'Salt' as a CIA Superspy

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Angelina Jolie Stars in 'Salt' as a CIA Superspy

Article excerpt

Angelina Jolie plays a CIA superspy, in the new movie 'Salt,' a high-octane action thriller.

In her new movie "Salt," Angelina Jolie is outfitted in blond

wigs, black wigs, jumpsuits, pantsuits. She can appear eerily

strait-laced in one scene and goth in the next. She's probably the

most dynamic action star in the movies right now and certainly the

most exotic.

In "Salt," she's playing a role that originally was meant for

Tom Cruise; I don't lament the switch. The part could just as easily

have been set up for Matt Damon. Although the principal filmmakers

- director Phillip Noyce, screenwriter Kurt Wimmer and

cinematographer Robert Elswit - seem to have had a

"Bourne"-style franchise in mind, their film is a bit too wiggy

and perverse for that.

It's also unapologetically a throwback to cold warriorism. Jolie

plays Evelyn Salt, a CIA undercover superspy first seen in flashback

being tortured by her North Korean captors - just to set the

film's temperature. (All in a day's work.)

Two years later, in Washington, D.C., where Evelyn is cozily

ensconced with her doting German arachnologist husband (August

Diehl), she is named as a Russian spy by a Russian defector (Daniel

Olbrychski), who also warns of an imminent assassination attempt in

the US against the visiting Russian president.

Denying the accusation, fearful for her husband's safety, Evelyn

flees the CIA's dragnet and spends much of the rest of the film

slicing, dicing, blasting, garroting, slithering down elevator

shafts, falling out of planes, and doing high-rise backflips onto

speeding semis. And all of this without so much as a smirk. She's

not even afraid of spiders.

Despite the fact that Evelyn's calisthenics, at least at first,

are propelled by her love for her husband, she's not a romantic.

She's too glaceed and otherworldly for that. Jolie resembles here,

as she did to an even greater extent in the "Lara Croft" movies

and "Wanted" and "Mr. and Mrs. Smith," a supersized action

figure. There's an animatronic blankness to her features (even

allowing for the fact that Evelyn must always be wary of revealing

her true emotions).

Paradoxically, this blankness makes her more compelling than the

usual action emoter because we are never quite sure what she's up

to or when she'll explode. Evelyn is almost preternaturally cunning

- in less than a minute she can fashion a wastebasket and fire

extinguisher into a lethal weapon - but she doesn't appear to

need any time to machinate. …

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