Danger Gal Friday: Evelyn Salt

This week’s Danger Gal Friday profiles Evelyn Salt, a CIA operative accused of being a Russian spy, from the movie SALT. Angelina Jolie portrayed the character in this 2010 action-spy thriller movie.

The big news surrounding this movie was that the main character had originally been pitched to Tom Cruise who passed on the project. When Jolie showed her interest, the writers had to go back and change the main character from male to female as well as make other alterations: the original character of Edwin Salt had a wife and child while Evelyn has only a husband. Also, supposedly, the character of Salt’s husband had to be altered so he didn’t seem too wimpy. My take? If the spouse character is wimpy as a male, then the character was wimpy as a female. It’s sad that we’re fine with wimpy women in a movie. If this really is the case, then the character was flawed from the beginning and the gender switch only highlighted the existing problem — it didn’t create it.

Such a stir came from the main character’s gender swap that you’d think movie-goers had never seen a female action star before. In fact, Newsweek makes just such a point in its review of the movie:

To read some early reactions and online chatter, you’d think no one had ever seen Jennifer Garner’s television series Alias, much less Sigourney Weaver in Aliens or Jolie herself in Wanted.

The movie has been out for a while, so I don’t think I need to be too careful about spoilers, but some follow, be warned. The action in SALT was at times so over-the-top that it was unbelievable, but I think most of us come to expect that from action movies these days. Jolie got to jump off trucks, enjoy a quick getaway on a motorcycle, inject spider venom into someone, disguise herself as a man, wear a bunch of wigs and dress up like a nun. And she only had to appear in her underwear twice (is that progress?).

Overall I enjoyed this movie and, as usual, also enjoyed Jolie’s creepy vibe. Jolie is always pushing these sorts of boundaries and I appreciate that. I know I’m going to get something different from one of her movies — and in SALT it’s not just a lady kicking ass. In SALT, we never know who’s side she’s on, something even most male action-movie actors rarely get to play out.