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Tasty Spy Stuff: Salt is pure, dumb summer-movie fun.

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"Angelina Jolie is a Russian spy! Or maybe not!" I know Hollywood is creatively bankrupt, but c'mon: dredging up 20-years-gone Cold War paranoia has gotta be a new low for the industry, hasn't it?

But Salt worksas in breathless-nonstop-action-intensity works. Oh, sure, it's nutty-as-a-fruitcake insane at the same time, but being this hugely entertaining goes a long way toward making you not want to laugh at it. I haven't had this much pure, dumb fun at the movies this summer.

Evelyn Salt is a CIA intelligence specialist about Russiathen in walks a defector to announce that Salt is, in fact, a spy for the Russians. Oh yeah, there's also a plot to destroy America that will begin with the assassination of the Russian presidentyes, the Russian presidentby a Russian operative in New York City.

And that ain't the half of the crazy. The defector tells a tale that is a conspiracy theorist's wet dream: changeling baby spies, Russian kids raised in the 1970s to infiltrate American society and, now, who knows how many are in positions to do America harm. Now Salt is on the run, heading to New York City. Is she going to kill the Russian president? Is she going to stop the assassination? We simply have no idea what to believe about her for a very long time, and it's downright thrilling to be kept on edge like this.

At barely 90 minutes, Salt feels both longer (for all the wonderful cheese and action that's crammed in here) and shorter (it flies by so breezily). By the time it's done, it has opened up its little universe so cleverly that it feels like a superheroor super-villainorigin story, one begging for a sequel so we can come back and play in this world some more.

SALT

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Angelina Jolie, Liev Schreiber, Chiwetel Ejiofor
Rated PG-13

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