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Before becoming a CIA officer, Evelyn Salt swore an oath to duty, honor, and country. She will prove loyal to these when a defector accuses her of being a Russian sleeper spy. Salt goes on the run, using all her skills and years of experience as a covert operative to elude capture, protect her husband, and stay one step ahead of her colleagues at the CIA.
For more about Salt and the Salt Blu-ray release, see Salt Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on December 17, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Director: Phillip Noyce
Writers: Kurt Wimmer, Brian Helgeland
Starring: Angelina Jolie, Liev Schreiber, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Daniel Olbrychski, August Diehl, Daniel Pierce
» See full cast & crew
Salt Blu-ray Review
I asked for a mai tai, and they brought me a pi˝a colada, and I said no salt, no salt for the margarita, but it had salt on it, big grains of salt.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, December 17, 2010
We bring her in or we bring her down.
Phillip Noyce is kind of like the cinematic equivalent of the author who churns out those readable but not necessarily memorable paperback Spy Thrillers that sell for $4.99 at the grocery store checkout isle. Movies like Clear and Present Danger, Patriot Games, and The Saint are all solid if unexceptional Thrillers that deliver reasonable entertainment in a slick package but aren't the kind of movies that are going to go down as cinema legends or even the elite of their genre. Noyce's latest film, Salt, isn't going to find a place of prominence, either, but it's still the director's crowning achievement, his finest film considering not only its technical prowess but the quality of its story. Salt is a deceptively good movie, one that looks like another recycled bore on the surface but that instead offers up a wonderfully suspenseful narrative that's packed with fantastic twists and turns, all on top of some of the slickest action of the year.
Evelyn Salt (Angelina Jolie, Wanted), prisoner of the North Korean military, has denied all claims that she's a spy, stood her ground under torture, and has been released into the custody of none other than fellow CIA operative Ted Winter (Liev Schreiber, The Manchurian Candidate) and her husband Mike (August Diehl), an Arachnologist who has recently unearthed a new breed of spider in the DPRK. Some time later, Salt is set to celebrate her wedding anniversary, but before she can leave the office, she and Winter are told of the unexpected arrival of a Russian defector who claims to have time-sensitive knowledge that could prevent a global catastrophe. His claim: the Russian President is to be assassinated by an undercover Russian agent. That agent's name: Evelyn Salt. When the CIA's sensitive technology confirms that he's telling the truth, agent Peabody (Chiwetel Ejiofor, Redbelt) orders Salt be held for questioning. A terrified Salt manages to escape the building and goes on the run, evading agents and hoping to find her husband alive and uncover the truth before she's caught or the Russian President is killed, the latter of which could very well trigger a catastrophic war between global superpowers.
From the outside looking in, Salt appears to be an unremarkable movie with "generic" written all over it, polished and shiny to be sure but seeming to promise nothing other than a run-of-the-mill "she was a top secret agent, but now she's on the run with no choice but to clear her name before time runs out" sort of genre standard-bearer plot. Indeed, Salt's opening act seems to deliver on that promise. The movie appears to be well made and highly watchable in a "been there, done that, but nice to see you again" sort of way, but once it shifts gears and it lets loose its first of many surprises, viewers will be taken aback as Director Phillip Noyce and Writer Kurt Wimmer skillfully throw all audience preconceptions and genre conventions out the window in favor of something fresh and invigorating that goes unrepentantly for the throat and never lets up. Salt goes from transparently entertaining to unbelievable surprising with a single action, and once the movie shifts gears, it relentlessly marches onward towards a wonderful conclusion that promises to throw the entirety of the film -- and all audience expectations to be sure -- off-balance. Best of all, the surprises aren't easy to see; Phillip Noyce keeps motives hidden and identities masked until just the right time when their revelations will practically blow the audience away.
Salt's best asset is undeniably its story, but the film is also home to strong supportive elements -- slick direction, exciting action scenes, and convincing acting -- that go a long way in making its plot surprises all the better. Angelina Jolie's performance seems at first stilted and uninterested, but as the plot thickens and story elements are revealed, the earlier nuances of her more generalized performance take shape and support her efforts later in the film. Hers is a satisfying effort that greatly enhances a stronger character arc; raw human emotion plays as much a part in her character's journey as does her unmatched skills as a highly trained specialist. Salt is a layered movie that peels away its pieces one at a time, each one redefining both what's to come and what's already passed. For as strong as the material may be on paper, Salt needed an actress who understood the complexities of the part, and Jolie demonstrates that knowledge throughout the movie, though it may not seem so at first but certainly becomes more clear in hindsight. Jolie's performance is like a microcosm of the Salt experience; unassuming and even bland at first look, but far more complex and satisfying in the greater context of the entire movie. Chiwetel Ejiofor -- who only seems to get better with every movie -- and Liev Schreiber are both equally impressive as government agents working the case. Additionally, Phillip Noyce demonstrates a firm understanding of what makes an action scene work; Salt takes on a no-nonsense tone and delivers fantastic action scenes that are exhilarating but far from fantasy. The picture might take a few liberties, but most of the action is grounded in a believability that only enhances the tension and excitement of every scene. Salt is a delightfully steady film that's as polished as anything out there; it's certainly not Oscar material, but for an Action movie with smarts, it's tough to beat.
Salt Blu-ray, Video Quality
Salt's 1080p high definition Blu-ray transfer is exceptional. The transfer is practically flawless, with anything resembling a problem -- a few soft elements and colors that appear a bit washed out, both of which are primarily confined to the beginning of the movie or in flashback scenes -- seeming to be more a result of filmmaker intent than an error in the transfer process. Generally, this is wonderful image that's typical of an exemplary Blu-ray transfer from 2010. Detail is rich and striking at every turn, with faces revealing more information than the actors would probably like while the transfer picks up every minute texture around various cityscapes. Concrete, street signs, building fašades, and the like are all gorgeously rendered both in the foreground and in backgrounds where clarity remains impeccable and detailing strong. The image enjoys a fine sense of depth, helped primarily by the amazing detailing that's evident even in the furthest and most inconsequential corners of the frame. Colors are well balanced, too, the transfer offering little in the way of bright and dazzling hues but handling the grays of the urban jungle, Jolie's blonde and jet-black hair, and other shades with satisfying precision. Blacks are decent but speckled with noise, though flesh tones appear accurate in every scene. Salt is accompanied by a fine layer of grain that adds the finishing touches to a wonderful film-like texture. Banding, aliasing, and other eyesores appear absent. This is another first-class transfer from Sony.
Salt Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Salt's DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack approaches the pinnacle of what brand-new films on Blu-ray should sound like. Much like its video presentation, Salt's soundtrack lives up to every reasonable expectation and never looks back, delivering a full-bodied and nearly seamless listen that's the perfect compliment to a modern-day Action/Thriller. From the opening moments as heavy metal doors slam open within the hellish confines of a dank North Korean prison, listeners will know that they're in for a treat. That effect -- and everything else about the track, for that matter -- is big, spacious, and refined, supported by plenty of surround sound delights that compliment rather than dominate the proceedings. The picture's action scenes are, of course, the highlight; explosions and gunshots are both expertly handled, each delivering plenty of raw power but also managing to feature faultless clarity as the sounds pound through the listening area and transport the listener into the middle of the mayhem. The track also handles other big-time sound effects with ease; a semi that rumbles down a highway in chapter six feels as if it's practically powering its way through the listening area, marking one of several such superb moments in the film. The surround channels carry action effects, music, and atmospherics, all seamlessly balanced and helping to create a 360-degree sound field. Whether minute but critical atmospherics such as general office clatter or voices that echo through a cavernous church and, by extension, around the soundstage, the track never comes up short in seamlessly integrating any number of sonic delights, both grand and unassuming alike. Dialogue is prioritized up the middle, and while a few syllables here and there seem to have a bit too much bass in tow, the spoken word never strains for clarity. Salt's lossless soundtrack is dynamic and exciting, adjectives that describe plenty of Sony's stellar soundtracks.
Salt Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Salt pours out a nice array of extra content for this Blu-ray release. Included is a splendid audio commentary, a picture-in-picture track, and several featurettes. The disc also features three cuts of the film: theatrical, unrated director's and unrated extended, all of which offer different endings, the third cut inserting something that's a wholesale change from what's included in the other two cuts.
Salt Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Salt is a smart and very well made Thriller that's not content to simply follow formula. Phillip Noyce's latest picture is easily his finest, not only showcasing top-rate action scenes that are some of the best around, but telling a story that's as engaging and surprising as longtime genre fans could want. The twists and turns and big action pieces will leave audiences more than satisfied, particularly considering that Salt had "everyday Thriller" written all over it by the look of the promotional materials. With its good performances and numerous surprises that keep on coming right until the final few seconds, Salt is easily one of the more pleasant surprises of 2010. Sony has once again turned in a first-class effort, this time with Salt; the Blu-ray disc features top-quality video and audio alongside a strong array of bonus features. Highly recommended.
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Salt Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Video App to Promote Salt Blu-ray - December 27, 2010
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has announced the creation of a new video app based on the movie Salt, which was released on Blu-ray last week. The "Compromise Your Friend" app allows users to create and share a video that "outs" a friend as a spy. The app uses ...
• This Week on Blu-ray - December 21-27 - December 21, 2010
Philip Noyce may not hold the same level of name recognition as elite action directors like Michael Bay or Christopher Nolan, but he has managed to work with some of Hollywood's most well known action stars. For his latest, and most complete, action film Salt, ...
• Salt Blu-ray Announced - October 18, 2010
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has announced Salt for Blu-ray release on December 21, in a Deluxe unrated edition. This spy/action thriller was initially penned with Tom Cruise in mind, but when the actor declined, it was rewritten to make Angelina Jolie the ...
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