The movie opens with Evelyn Salt (Jolie) being tortured in a prison in North Korea being accused of espionage. She is soon traded for a North Korean prisoner and escorted to safety by her boss (Schreiber). While walking towards the boarder, she asks why she was set free, and it is explained that her boyfriend Mike (seen staring at her from the other side of the boarder) was petitioning everyone in the government for her to be set free. Thus, in order for them to stop him from stirring up more unneeded publicity, they agreed to make an exchange.
In present day, Salt is watching her now husband Mike working at the breakfast table with his bugs (he is an arachnologist, meaning he studies spiders for a living). After he notices her standing there, he says happy anniversary. She offers to cook him breakfast, but he passes, mocking her cooking. The scene then cuts to her at work, learning online how to fold a napkin into a certain pattern so that the anniversary dinner she has planned is perfect. Winter interrupts, they chat for a while, and then get ready to head out as it’s close to the end of the workday. As they are leaving, another agent chases them and finally tells them that a defector has come in and wishes to give them information. Wanting to see if the Russian has any useful information, Salt and Winter head back upstairs. Neural scans are set up in order to determine if the defector is lying, and Salt enters the room and begins the interview.
The defector begins by saying that his name is Orlov and proceeds by telling her a story about a Russian espionage program set up during the Cold War in which children of American families were kidnapped then replaced with Russian children that had been trained to be sleeper cell spies by a Russian official in hopes of restoring Russia's dominance one day. These agents are called K 12s, and are supposedly a myth. They would assume the child's identity until Day X, the undisclosed date of action in which they would strike. Day X is apparently coming, and its events will apparently begin with the murder of the Russian President at the US' Vice President's funeral the next day in Manhattan and will finish with the US President's assassination a day later.
Winter tells her to wrap up the interview, as they do not believe him. As she is leaving, he explains that the agent that will murder the President is Evelyn Salt. Salt leaves the room and is visibly upset. As she walks into the viewing room where her colleagues are, it is determined by the neural scan that he was being truthful throughout the interview. She begins speaking to the Counter Intelligence officer named Peabody and Winter, claiming her innocence. Winter is believing her and begins speaking to Peabody about how to proceed. Orlov is escorted out by two agents and goes into an elevator with them. Salt is given her phone as in order to contact Mike as, when the cover of an agent is blown, often their whole fake life is in danger. She is told to wait in the interrogation room while they attempt to figure out how to proceed. As she watches Winters and Peabody argue, she realizes that she is in danger. Cut to Orlov in the elevator. A blade comes out of his shoe, and he proceeds to kill both guards with him and escape. Winters and Peabody are alerted, giving Salt the opportunity to escape the room and attempt to get out of the building. As the security of the building begins to tighten, she finds herself cornered in the interrogation room again where she rigs up an explosive device to fire at the swat team. She fires it, knocking them unconscious and is able to steal a gun in the process. She then uses the gun to break a window and proceeds to climb onto the roof then onto the street. She gets into a cab, attempts to call Mike again and hangs up after again getting their apartment's voicemail. She breaks her sim card and then gets out at her apartment.
As she walks in, she notices Mike's chair has been knocked over and how his sandwich is half eaten. There has obviously been a struggle, and he has been kidnapped. As Salt packs her bag and takes some of Mike's spiders, Winters and Peabody are assembling a team to go to her house to see if she is there. They arrive just as she is climbing out of her window. She narrowly escapes and climbs into a neighbor's apartment. As she speaks to the child in the apartment and changes, she flashes back again to her husband and parts of their lives together. She escapes and while walking away from the building, is spotted by Winter. A chase ensues, and Salt is cornered then jumps onto a semi truck passing under the overpass that she is on. The agents follow her and shoot as she jumps from one truck to another then finally lands on the ground. She then steals a motorcycle and manages to outmaneuver them and escape.
At this point, Salt heads to a bar. While in the bathroom, she steals the coat and ID of a fellow patron, takes a bus to NYC, and uses it to rent a hotel room. There, she dyes her hair and steals clothes. She then begins to plan out how to get into the cathedral and prints a subway map. At this point, another flashback shows us that she is a Russian implant. The next day, she boards a train and plants a smoke device. While everyone is distracted, she gets off the train and into the tunnels beneath the cathedral. As she gets into position, the funeral begins taking place in the church. As the Russian President gets up to deliver a speech, Salt throws an explosive device onto the roof (which is directly under where the president is standing) and the floor crumbles below him, causing him to fall on to her level. Panic ensues and she presumably shoots the Russian president. Peabody comes in, and she surrenders despite having the opportunity to shoot him. As she is taken away, Winters screams that he hopes she rots in jail for what she has done. She is put into an SUV and is transported in a caravan through the city. She then manages to eject both of her guards from the car and stun the driver, causing him to wreck the police car ahead of and behind them. To escape, the other police now swarming around her, she drives the SUV over the guardrail and into the street below, wrecking the car. As the public come to see if everyone inside is all right, Salt escapes.
The news is, at this point, covering the death of the Russian President and the riots that are now happening across Moscow. Salt is then seen on a ferry, and heads to a scrap metal yard. There, she sees Orlov and embraces him. It is revealed that he is the man who took her in and trained her to become a Russian spy. She is then taken to a ship in the Hudson that serves as the Russian spies' home base. There, she is told that the next step of their plan was to seize nuclear weapons and begin a large-scale war. After being taken into the hull of the ship, she sees Mike being held hostage. To see whether or not she is loyal, Orlov shoots him and watches her reaction. When she fails to react, he introduces her to her brothers and then escorts her into his office to divulge more details about the plan. Once hearing that she is to meet with a spy disguised as a NATO officer the next morning and travel with him to Washington, DC, Salt pours them both a drink. While he is drinking, she smashes the bottle and cuts his throat with the bottleneck. She goes on to kill everyone else on the boat, and then go to the rendezvous point to meet with the NATO officer.
After he arrives and boards the plane, she recognizes him and flashes back to her spy training as a child. They talk about their lives and their childhood. It is revealed that Salt was the best in her class and how she will finish first in this plan as well. He reveals that the plan will be to kill the US President while he is in his security bunker at the White House. Upon their arrival in Washington, he gives her a new ID and is disguised as a fellow NATO officer. After getting into the White House, he reveals that he is going to sacrifice himself by threatening the President so that he will flee to the bunker where Salt is to kill him. Winters is among the group of men around the President and fleeing with him to the bunker. As they all get into the elevator to head down to the bunker, Salt is above them, jumping from floor to floor in the elevator shaft framework. Once on the bunker's level, she proceeds to kill the guards outside and pass safely into the bunker.
In the bunker, the President is raising the terror alert in the country to Def-con 2 as Russia is apparently preparing to fire nuclear weapons at the US in retaliation for what they see as an act of war (the killing of their President by a CIA agent). After the level is raised, you see Winters stand up and begin killing all those in the room. Finally, it is just he and the President. After telling the President to activate strategic nuclear deployment strategies and being denied, he hits the President and knocks him unconscious. Salt has witnessed all of this. She approaches the bulletproof window and sees him use the President's hand to reauthorize and activate the strategic strike on Mecca and Tehran. She begins speaking to him through the glass, appealing to him by asking why he never told her that he too was a spy. She begs to let her join him and finally he relents. As he is turning to go to the door to let her in, the news flashes on the television, saying that the Russian President is not dead as previously thought and had merely been given a paralytic. Realizing that Salt used venom from Mike's spiders so that it appeared that she had killed him, Winter says that he didn't trust her after she came back from North Korea. He knew that she had fallen for Mike and was not the same person that she had been. That was why he told Orlov to kidnap and kill Mike, as well as why she was being made into the Patsy and why Winter would be seen as the hero. Salt is enraged at this point and attempts to fire her gun through the glass. When this fails, she sees the access box next to the door on the other side of the room. She goes to it on the other side, firing her gun at it until the wall behind it is exposed. She then rewires the box so that she can get into the bunker conference room.
In the room, Salt and Winters fight. The activation of the weapons is almost complete, but at the last minute, the secret service arrives and overtakes them. Instead of giving herself up, Salt jumps to pull the plug on the computer, canceling the weapon strike activation and is shot in the process. Both she and Winters are escorted out, and as she is wearing a vest, Salt is unharmed. As she is being led up from the bunker as a prisoner, she sees Winters getting his wounds treated next to the stairs. She jumps toward him, wrapping her handcuffs around his neck and jumping over the balcony to strangle him. By the time she is pulled up, his neck has been broken and she is handed over to Peabody.
They board a helicopter, and he asks her why she killed Winters. Her reply is "someone had to". She then explains her side, and Peabody begins to believe her but points out that no one else will. She says that there are more spies out there that will stop at nothing to interfere. She convinces him to let her go as they have taken everything from her and she will stop at nothing until all of the spies are dead. He then undoes her cuffs and she jumps from the chopper, escaping into the Potomac River.
*CUT TO THE CHASE*
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CIA Agent Evelyn Salt (Angelina Jolie) is actually a Russian spy, having been recruited as a child.
Her cover is blown on what is the start of Day X where two events are planned. The first is the killing of the Russian President which will look like the CIA did it and she appears to successfully complete it. The second is the stealing of the US Atomic weapon controls from the U.S. President and launching an attack on Tehran and Mecca.
Just as they are about to launch the nuclear attack she discovers that her CIA partner, Ted Winter (Liev Schreiber) is also a mole for the Russians and she stops him from launching the nukes but she is shot in the process. Ted (whose cover wasn't blown) is the hero. She isn't dead however and as she is being led away she kills Ted in an very stylistic maneuver.
While being flown away she convinces the head CIA agent that she is actually the one who just saved the world but there are many more moles out there. He says that he believes her but nobody else will so he unlocks her handcuffs and tells he to "Go get 'em" as she jumps out of the copter, into the river.
The film ends as she is running through the woods.
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