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Salt - Blu-ray Movie Review 2

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Salt Movie Review

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Almost as if from another era of filmmaking, Phillip Noyce’s Salt blazes onto the silver screen with a satisfying steely finesse not seen on a consistent level since the 1970’s.  Blending the cold war intrigue of John Huston’s The Kremlin Letter with the balls-to-the-wall action of Clint Eastwood’s The Eiger Sanction, Salt certainly reads as an unapologetic love letter to a bygone era of cold war filmmaking not concerned with tales about superheroes.  Taken in moderation, Salt earns a welcomed response.

Angelina Jolie is Evelyn Salt, a one-time CIA operative now accused of being a Russian spy by a recent defector named Orlov (Daniel Olbrychski).  Pursued at great lengths by Ted Winter (Liev Schreiber) and his CIA colleague, Peabody (Chiwetel Ejiofor), Salt burns a trail through the Russian underground and unveils a plot to blow America up, from the inside out.  I know what you are thinking.  Russian spy?  But the Cold War is over, you say.  Yes, and I suppose there is a bit of implausibility inherent in the script written by Kurt Wimmer (Equilibrium and Law Abiding Citizen), but Noyce’s expertise with the spy genre (Clear and Present Danger, Patriot Games, and The Saint) and Jolie’s earnest presence are what makes this film a slightly above average outing.

Salt’s limits are established early on.  Yes, she’s a spy, but she’s not a James Bond-type super spy.  She gets wounded.  She falls down.  When pushed, she will perform, but – if the beginning scenes in North Korea only work to establish one note – you know she is mostly human.  Go ahead, count the bruises.  Noyce shrewdly establishes this fact about his central character and consistently delivers on her humanity.  We know her, see her life, and the secrets she holds unfold and tangle before us.  While the movie never hits a truly genuine suspenseful moment (especially if you are paying close attention), its thriller-like mechanisms are in constant movement and, when Salt comes into direct conflict with her CIA colleagues below The White House, combines a one-two gut punch with some nail-biting escape action.

Certainly, there are some huge plot holes in this film and in Wimmer’s script.  To me, that suggests there might be a director’s cut looming somewhere in the near future, but even if there isn’t, when Angelina Jolie is in action on top of a semi-truck, Salt’s Cold War premise somehow makes a certain kind of sense.  We forgive the script of its shortcomings as revenge takes over as prime directive and, while we never know her true purpose as it relates to American interests, Salt does become our hero.  We want her to find her inner peace – even if we don’t have the full picture of what she knows in front of us – and we root for her to make right what the CIA got wrong…even if it means extending her journey beyond the borders of one picture.

Sprinkled with a healthy dose of violence and gritty realism, Salt’s action is flavored with an intensity that rivals a latter-day Bond picture, but manages to remain self-contained with a quiet purpose and constant momentum.  Salt isn’t pretentious.  It isn’t trying to be anything more than a spy thriller with some car chases and fight scenes (where you can actually see the action).  It isn’t even trying to warm up any interest in reviving the Cold War.  Angelina Jolie, in the title role, is doing what Harrison Ford as Jack Ryan did nearly two decades ago - just trying to survive some deadly politics.

Is there anything more human than that?

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{2jtab: Blu-ray Details}

Component Grades
Movie

Blu-ray Disc
4 stars

4 stars



Blu-ray Experience
4 stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - December 21, 2011
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
Subtitles
: English, English SDH, French, Spanish
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; English: Dolby Digital 2.0; French: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD); Bonus View (PiP); BD-Live; movieIQ

The MPEG-4 AVC transfer is flawless. Colours veer to the cold side without sacrificing accurate flesh tones or diverse palettes when the landscapes change. Picture depth and clarity are reference quality, there is no sign of aliasing or banding or any of the other transfer nasties. It’s perfect.

The DTS-HD 5.1 audio is every bit as impressive as the picture; a lossless, diverse mix that spreads the wealth of sounds around the room constantly. Dialogue is clear even in moments of high action; the rears are giving a good workout, even in no action moments. Good one to show off your sound system.

Extras are very generous. You get three cuts of the film, a director’s picture in picture commentary, many short featurettes covering topics that won’t really surprise, and a half-hour featurette on the development of the movie. There is another version (not reviewed) with a digital copy.

Supplements:

Spy Cam: Picture-in-Picture (Theatrical Cut Only)

Commentary:

  • With director Phillip Noyce

Featurettes:

  • The Ultimate Female Action Hero (1080p,8:05)
  • The Real Agents (1080p, 12:33)
  • Spy Disguise: The Looks of Evelyn Salt (1080p, 5:26)
  • The Modern Master of the Political Thriller: Phillip Noyce (1080p, 9:15)
  • False Identity: Creating a New Reality (1080p, 7:14)
  • Salt: Declassified (1080p, 29:47)
  • "The Treatment" Radio Interview With Phillip Noyce (1080p, 27:12)

Trailers

BD-Live.

MovieIQ.

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