More and more action movies, especially those involving spies and government assassins, are taking pages from the Bourne series. Salt is no exception, trying to break the mold for action movies that was so impenetrably cast by films such as the Mission Impossible and James Bond franchises (i.e. ultra-unrealistic and hackneyed action, special effects up the wazoo, plot and character development are secondary considerations.)
There is a certain brand of movies (Taken, Ninja Assassin, Salt) that are best watched in places like airplanes or on long car trips. Maybe it's because intercontinental airline travel is so devoid of stimulation beyond the snoring fat lady next to you and the constant roar of the engines that make these movies perfect for watching aboard an eight-hour flight. They are so fantastical, so laughable and fun, such an escape from the darkened cabin. I couldn't imagine watching them elsewhere (although, I did watch Salt in my living room.) An environment such as an airplane makes you so crave mindless entertainment that you'll excuse the gigantic plot holes, the half-assed acting, and the over-used special effects.
Angelina Jolie plays Evelyn Salt, a CIA spook who, of course, specializes in everything from kicking ass to taking names. Her superior, Ted Winter (played by Liv Schreiber), is a hurly burly who puts his upmost faith in her and tries to pull her back onto the reservation. The film doesn't take any time wasting around with backstory (that's filled in slightly throughout the film by way of flashback), and plunges straight into the midst of it. Jolie is saved from a North Korean prison at the behest of her future husband, August Deihl. Years later (on her anniversary), a man walks comes into the CIA claiming to be a Russian spy. During his debriefing, he says he's Vassily Orlov (Daniel Olbrychski), and is dying of cancer, then claims that Jolie is actually a Russian sleeper spy and there's a huge Russian ploy to bring back the Soviet Union and bring down the United States. Chiwetel Ejiofor, a counter-intelligence office wants to learn more and keep Jolie under lock and key. Jolie takes off with the CIA host (and her former boss) in hot pursuit.
Salt is essentially a gigantic chase scene interspersed with some flashbacks and rest, but it grabs ahold and doesn't let go. It's action-packed and full of Angelina Jolie looking sexy as she beats the shit out faceless G-men (she actually, no lie, takes off her panties to throw over a security camera, then blows some fuckers away.)
Returning to an earlier point, Salt might be fun to watch, but don't watch it expecting a smart, clever movie. While the acting is almost half-way decent, the plot is pretty much absurd. The film is quickly paced, always keeping the viewed on the edge of his seat, guessing as to who Jolie is, what her real motives are, and who everyone else is as well. There are twists and turns, but each time a new character is introduced or a new plot twist is revealed, it's almost hilariously bad (numerous times I yelled out loud (laughing) "WHAT?! This is ridiculous!!!") You might ask yourself why so many trained operatives are so slow to react when Jolie pistol whips them; or why the police don't bring helicopters to help chase her; or why the Russians would think that a crazy, convoluted plan, years in the making, would ever work—but don't. That takes away half the fun. But then again, you ought to be watching this because Angelina Jolie is looking fit and thin thrashing her way though loads of armed men. Now, next time you are on a cross-country trip, you have something to keep you occupied for few hours.