Rounding off this second season we take a look at SALT, the 2010 action thriller starring Angelina Jolie as a CIA officer accused of being a Russian sleeper agent. We chart the development of the film, from its origins as an attempt to recreate the Bourne franchise, through Amy Pascal and Jolie’s conversations about making a female-led spy thriller. SALT is one of the less well known CIA-assisted productions, but along with technical advice from former CIA officer Melissa Boyle Mahle the producers also consulted with the CIA themselves in a video conference. They also employed Kurt Wimmer, one of the screenwriters from The Recruit. There is also a very weird story involving one of the extras in the opening sequence in North Korea.
We analyse the mystery of Evelyn Salt’s underwear and then the conversation hones in on Russia, who in 2010 were not on the news agenda, and how this movie predicted the rise of the ‘new Cold War’ that is commonplace in most current spy films and TV shows. The whole notion of a sleeper agent Russian spy ring was risible at the time but before long this exact story hit the news in a big way. We touch on the transhuman disguise that Jolie employs in the film and how this relates both to Argo and to Mission: Impossible, two other CIA-assisted movies. We round off looking back on season 2 of The CIA and Hollywood and suggest a possibility for doing season 3 in a different way.