S.A.L.T. = Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty
So these spy movies are either commentaries on or exploitation of espionage history. Salt is an exploitation as a what-if movie. The timing is interesting because SALT I was in 1969 and the abortive SALT II in 1979. Then came Berlin in 1989 and the Soviet Union in 1991 and then START I and START II. The idea in the plot is well over 20 years too late. Sleepers are interesting, terrorism is interesting but asking the everyday American to get the frothing anticommunist fervor to suspend their disbelief of the storyline in this movie is asking too much. The idea that Orlov survived everything that Russia has gone through (since 1975 when he started stealing children) for 35 years, kept in contact with his widely distributed sleeper cells who are all still on board with the guy who was basically abusing them as children with the assumption that kids always listen to what adults told them when they were young, and predicated on his fervent hatred of the US and their mindless devotion to training that stopped before puberty.
Movies like this one are hard anyways, the premise is based entirely on the question of whether she’s a sleeper or not and all the tension, all the action, all the words and deeds string the denouement of this question as far along as possible. I’d say the weakness of this type of plot is exposed when the audience is asked to insert themselves into a micro-environment of characters. Sure, the physical locations and action can vary extensively but the characters must remain constant or we are bewildered and lost. So the JJ Abrams temptation of revision that a director experiences over a season(s) is condensed into one movie that is often under 2 hours long. Blah, blah blah, basically everyone involved becomes intimately involved as can be seen in Winter’s role. Once we have our suspicions quelled by Evelyn’s actions then the whole question of what she’s going to do next is moot, instead we begin questioning if that’s what she should in fact actually be doing – what are her alternatives – and is any of this realistically possible. And that’s when they lose us. And now we have a palatable action movie that has become intellectually unsatisfying.
This one fails in the writing, pure and simple.
On the other hand, would you like to see when she got her start in CIA movies?