Directed By: Philip Noyce

Starring: Angelina Jolie, Liev Schreiber, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Daniel Olbrychski, and August Diehl

Angelina Jolie has really built a versatile career as an actress and filmmaker.  While she can hold her own in dramatic roles in films like A Mighty Heart and Changeling, she can also kick some asses in films like Mr. and Mrs. Smith and Wanted.  To top things off, she established herself as a burgeoning director with In the Land of Blood and Honey earlier this year.  In Jolie's long, diverse filmography, one of her most pivotal films might just be her 2010 action vehicle Salt. 

Evelyn Salt (Jolie) is in a North Korean prison and is being tortured under the suspicion that she's an American spy in the CIA.  As it turns out, her captors are right.  What they don't know is that her husband Michael Krause (August Diehl) will move heaven and earth to find her, even if he doesn't know that she's a spy.  Because of this, the CIA breaks its own policy and conducts a prisoner exchange with North Korea for Salt.  When her colleague Ted Winter (Liev Schreiber) informs her that she's been freed because of her husband's relentless efforts, she finally admits to Michael that she's a spy and that a relationship with her is not safe for him.  She has no idea how right she is.

On Salt's wedding anniversary a couple of years later, she's about to leave the office for the day to meet Michael when Russian Oleg Vasilyevich Orlov (Daniel Olbrychski) waltzes into the CIA's offices in Washington, DC offering vital information on a mole within the CIA.  Though on her way out the door to celebrate her anniversary with Michael, Salt is tasked with interrogating this guy.  According to Orlov, this mole has been here for years and will assassinate Russian President Boris (Olek Krupa) at the funeral of the recently deceased American Vice President.  Orlov identifies this spy as Evelyn Salt.  Naturally, she is then taken into custody by her co-workers.  Realizing the threat posed by Orlov's claims, Salt flees the CIA.  Her colleague Ted Winter and counterintelligence agent Peabody (Chiwetel Ejiofor) are hot on her trail though.

Of all her action heroines, Angelina Jolie's character Evelyn Salt might just be the most entertaining.  It's not because she's kicking ass and taking names.  It's not because she does whatever she has to do to get the job done.  It's because we don't know what that job actually is or which side she's on.  Jolie brings an air of mystery to the character.  We don't know what Salt is thinking or what her agenda is.  What we do know is that she's going to hurt somebody in the process.  This mysterious aura makes Jolie undeniably captivating on screen as Evelyn Salt.

While Angelina Jolie gives us one hell of a performance in the lead role and some kickass action sequences, Salt is only a decent film.  Her excellence does not outweigh the film's general mediocrity.  The plot is convoluted and is nonsensical at times.  Liev Schreiber's Agent Winter and Chiwetel Ejiofor's Agent Peabody are utterly predictable characters.  Finally, there's a sense of incompetence plaguing every character not named Evelyn Salt.  One heroine in Jolie is not enough to counteract all these problems.  With this in mind, Salt gets a 0.06% rating.  Have a few rounds of beer with this one.

Salt is not just pivotal for what it meant for Angelina Jolie's career as an action star, but it's far more important for what it means for the role of women in action movies.  By being the sole star of this film, Jolie is showcasing that women can be far more than just the eye candy or damsel in distress of an action flick.  They can be the kickass heroines as well.  In the role of the heroine, they can be pretty damn entertaining too.