In the movie Salt with Angelina Jolie and Liev Schreiber, towards the end of the movie we see Salt stop the nuclear attack which was initiated by Winter. Does she do this out of patriotism, for the fact that she wants Payback on Orlov, or is there something else there I'm missing?

Earlier in the movie, Salt is forced to stand and watch as Orlov causes the death of her husband Mike. We also find out that the time she spent in the North Korean prison and subsequently being saved by Mike's efforts has broken her "Imperial Conditioning" (sorry, play on words from the movie Dune). Did she actually become a patriot? Or was it all a revenge factor going on with her? We also notice throughout the movie, while she was taking down "bad guys" (bad guys being the cops ... So not really "bad", just in opposition to her end goals), she never actually kills any of them. Yes, she messes a lot of them up, but doesn't appear to kill any of them.

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    Good question. Salt struck me as a popcorn flick with plotholes big enough to fit the Soviet empire, but I got the overall impression Salt was was loyal to the U.S. long before she was outed as a spy by that mole/defector who supposedly triggered her kill mission. Salt's lenience toward U.S. forces reflects this: she harms, disarms, never kills. She certainly kills a lot of Russians though. I know it's strictly opinion but when things go all huey shaped her goals as 1) escape custody 2) save president 3) stop Orlov plans stand well, without the revenge aspect, so maybe revenge is just a bonus?
    – rbsite
    Commented May 31, 2014 at 8:47

3 Answers 3


I don't think either of your two reasons apply, but something more in between.

While it is true, that her imprisonment and following rescue by Mike broke her and took her away from Orlov's ideals, it didn't magically make her an American patriot but simply comitted to Mike and maybe realizing what Orlov actually did to her. I think after her old family turned up and destroyed her new family and made her in turn destroy Orlov, she sits in some kind of disillusioned limbo between both of her homelands and past ideals, feeling not much of a connection to any of them. So I don't think she is in any way to call a patriot, neither a Russian nor an American one.

However, I think she still wasn't indifferent to the world and its people in general, as also shown when she tried to not kill anyone apart from the people that killed Mike, having been emotionally "broken" by Mike, even if not politically. She thus still didn't want a nuclear attack to happen, even if "only" for moral and not for political reasons.

So neither do I think she was actually a patriot, not having much dedication to the US or any other country, nor do I think she stopped the bombs out of mere protest against Orlov, but also because you don't need to be a patriot to abhor a nuclear attack. While her final state at the end of the movie is one of a rogue agent without a country, on a quest to find the people who messed up her life, she still adheres to some kind of moral ethics, to which the canceling of a nuclear attack certainly belongs.

  • This is a great answer. Thanks for clarifying things for me. Commented Jun 3, 2014 at 11:24
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    @Paulster2 Yet I forgot to add that this is entirely my own interpretation without any "correctness" guarantee. But thank you.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Jun 3, 2014 at 11:24
  • Interpretation or not, still a good answer. We all put interpretation into our answers, whether we back that with "correctness" or not. Commented Jun 3, 2014 at 11:29

This is purely my personal interpretation,

Salt loved her husband so much because

Evelyn Salt is being tortured in a North Korean prison on suspicion of being an American spy. Her boyfriend, arachnologist Mike Krause , generates so much publicity that the CIA is forced to arrange a prisoner exchange, despite the agency's policy against it.

But Orlov kills Mike in front of her. So, she started hunting and killing Russian spies. But it left me wondering why Salt risked her life to stop the Nuclear launch. So, I assumed, whatever it takes, Salt wanted to stop Orlov's plans to avenge her husband's death.

In my opinion, Salt is not an American patriot but wanted to track down and kill the Russian spies for murdering her husband brutally in front of her and she continues to do that during the end of the movie.

  • This is a great answer, as well. I just feel the answer @NapoleonWilson provided was a bit more inclusive and complete. Commented Jun 3, 2014 at 11:25
  • I understand, No problem. Commented Jun 3, 2014 at 14:36

She does it both out of revenge for her husband and the morality she developed.

Revenge In the helicopter she tells Peabody that shes wants revenge on the Russian spies because "they took everything from her."

Morality She chooses to stage a ruse instead of killing the Russian president, even before her husband dies. And throughout the movie, she prefers non-lethal force when fighting for its own sake.

Her rescue and Krause's love changes her to both love him and change her moral system generally.

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