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Salt (Deluxe Unrated Edition) (2010) Print E-mail
Monday, 20 December 2010
ImageAngelina Jolie has long been the female action hero in blockbuster films.  No one will forget her as Lara Croft.  So, it is only natural that she be chosen as the female version of Jason Bourne.  This film is so closely akin with the Bourne series that the film could be titled, “The Salt Identity.”  And just for the record, this isn’t really a bad thing.

“Salt” is a high-octane, action thrill ride.  There is no doubt about that.  Is it perfect?  Not be a long shot.  Still, there is a quality possessed by this film that gives it attraction.  I really can’t describe it in words.  It is just a feeling that you get while wading through all the action sequences.

The story is a bit different than we have seen before, but it lacks development.  Instead, filmmakers rely on the action sequences and foreshadowing segments to convey a plot to the audience.  I can’t say that the film is entirely predictable.  There are a couple twists that might catch you by surprise if you are not fully focused on the events unfolding.  I can’t give away the ultimate twist, but it definitely one you could see coming a mile away.

Also, the filmmakers have a tendency to include segments that are clearly foreshadowing elements.  They are not even disguised.  It is segments like those that give away the film all too easily.  The difference with the Bourne series is that those foreshadowing elements are nicely disguised, leaving revelations for the audience.  Those don’t exist in “Salt.”

The film is about Evelyn Salt (Angelina Jolie), an operative for the CIA in the Russian wing.  She makes a remarkable recovery after years of torture by the North Koreans, marrying and settling down.  Her world is about to turn upside down when an ex Russian FSB agent strolls into the CIA front office building with information.  Her interrogation leads to information predicting the assassination of the Russian President by and Russian operative who has been planted in the United States for many years.  The name of the assassin?  Evelyn Salt.
Salt’s only concern lies for her husband.  She knows that operatives will take out anyone close to her when the information leaks.  She insists that she is not the spy, but all of her actions make the CIA believe that she is.  Of course, us as the audience know that something deeper is going on.  The CIA is shown as a stereotypical outfit that only cares are shooting now and asking questions later.

“Salt” is just one escape sequence after another.  While most of them are well done, there doesn’t seem to be enough of a connection between each of the characters.  It all unfolds at the end, but up until that point it lacks coherency.  So, make sure to remember every little detail along the way so that you can tie it together when the end comes.  Unfortunately, the end of the film simply turns the entire film into a pre-cursor, or origins film for a sequel.  As of now there is no sequel announced.  Based on the average ratings of the film, there probably won’t be, which just makes the ending of this film non-conclusive.

In terms of video quality, “Salt” comes to Blu-ray with an AVC encode, and it does the job well.  Many of the issues with the video seem to stem from original source issues.  The colors are cold, as is the image as a whole, but they are well represented as is.  Just don’t expect eye-popping color in this film.  The image is primarily gray, simulating the cold war feel, however, fleshtones are accurate.  The black level is decent, though darker segments have plenty of noise in them.  Details and textures are strong.  The landscapes and costumes all contain fine imagery.  Shadow delineation is good for the most part.  There are few struggling segments, but they are never too distracting.  Contrast is light as intentional, and the brightness complements nicely.  While the video quality of “Salt” probably won’t leave you enthralled, the transfer itself is excellent.

The audio of “Salt” is presented in what seems to be the forever standard on Blu-ray now, DTS-HD MA 5.1.  This is an explosive track that is hit or miss in several segments.  The surround channels are nicely engaging, however, there are several missed opportunities by the sound designer, which leaves the audio track a bit jumpy.  This is not the fault of the transfer.  My biggest issue with the transfer is the frequency response.  Like many action/thriller films, the audio track is dull.  It lacks the upper-mid, high frequency clarity that gives an audio track its presence.  The LFE channel is bombastic and will packed a punch in all the appropriate sequences.  Dialogue is clear and intelligible.  There are couple lines that fall into obscurity, but nothing that we couldn’t leave without.  So, while the surround channels are enveloping with sound effects and the like, it lacks an overall clarity.  There are just a few instances in which clearly audible discrete effects panning through the rear channels.  So there is a lack of coherency in the audio track, but it will definitely convey the action quite nicely.

This deluxe edition comes with three versions of the film.  There is the original theatrical cut, a director’s cut and an unrated extended cut.  The primary difference between these cuts is the ending of the film. They are definitely worth checking out.

In terms of special features, “Salt” begins with a PiP track, “Spy Cam.”  This is only available on the theatrical cut of the film.  This PiP is infrequent, but it does offer a wide variety of information when it does pop in.  More worth your time would be the fantastic audio commentary track by director Phillip Noyce.  This commentary is engaging, nicely structured and very informative.  This is definitely worth a listen.

“The Real Agents” gives us some clips from real agents of the Cold War era.  “The Ultimate Female Action Hero” examines Jolie and her stunt work.  “Spy Disguise: The Looks of Evelyn Salt” is a self-explanatory featurette.  “False Identity: Creating A New Reality” is a visual effects segment.  “The Modern Master Of The Political Thriller: Phillip Noyce” is a brief interview with Noyce on his creation.  “’Salt:’ Declassified” is a nice 30-minute making-of segment.  “’The Treatment’ Radio Interview With Phillip Noyce” is another director interview.  Lastly, the Blu-ray disc is enabled with BD-Live and MovieIQ.

“Salt” isn’t perfect, but it is of the better action/thriller films that I have seen this past year.  The video and audio qualities are not absolutely stunning but you will find them to be of more than sufficient quality.  I definitely recommend this title.

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