In theaters.

The echoes of the Bourne movies are impossible to miss. Preternaturally gifted assassin protagonist—check. Assassin goes rogue—check. Shadowy puppet-masters attempt to determine just what the titular assassin is up to—check. Assassin may have grudging allies among the puppet-masters—check. Highly choreographed on-location action scenes—check. Explosions, gun fights, and improbable leaps from one moving vehicle to another—check, check, check. Evelyn Salt might be more likely to use a maxipad to staunch blood flow from a bullet wound (which is actually kind of hilarious and awesome), but other than that, she and Jason Bourne are essentially the same character, right down to the chiseled physique, stoic demeanor, and ninja-like reflexes.

But despite the glaring similarities between Salt and Bournes Identity, Supremacy, and UltimatumSalt doesn’t begin to measure up to its predecessors. It’s not a problem of execution, though: Salt might be a knock-off, but it’s not a cheap knock-off. Angelina Jolie was born to play superhuman roles like this, and she’s backed up by a great supporting cast, including Liev Schreiber, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and August Diehl. Director Phillip Noyce is no Paul Greengrass, but he’s talented enough to keep the energy up and pull off a few rollickingly good sequences.

No, the problem with Salt is in the fundamentals, past the look-alike plots into the storytelling itself. The Bourne movies might not be cinéma vérité, but they take place in a recognizable contemporary world. Salt, by contrast, is utter nonsense—worse, dated nonsense, like someone awkwardly dolled up a forgotten McCarthy-era screenplay in modern-day garb and CGI. And why the hell would anyone want to do that?