Salt

 

Salt

Written by Kurt Wimmer

Directed by Phillip Noyce

2010


Cast:

Angelina Jolie

Liev Schreiber

Chiwetel Ejiofor

Daniel Olbrychski

August Diehl


Studio:

Theatrical:  Columbia & Relativity Media

Video: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment


Video:

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC

Disc Size: 48.20 GB

Feature Size: 24.45 GB [Director’s Cut]

Bit Rate: 20.97 Mbps

Runtime: 101 minutes

Chapters: 16

Region: All


Audio:

English DTS-HD MA 5.1

French DTS-HD MA 5.1

Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1

English DTS Express 2.0

French DTS 5.1


Subtitles:

English SDH, Spanish & French


Extras:

Theatrical Cut

Director’s Extended Cut

Unrated Extended Cut

Filmmakers' Commentaries

Spy Cam: Picture-in-Picture 

SALT Declassified: The Making of “Salt” (29:45)

The Ultimate Female Action Hero (8:05)

The Real Agents (12:30)

Spy Disguise: The Looks of Evelyn Salt (5:25)

The Modern Master of the Political Thriller (9:15)

"The Treatment" Radio Interview with Phillip Noyce (27:12)

False Identity: Creating A New Reality (7:14)

movieIQ


Presentation:

Amaray Blu-ray case: BRD x 1

Release Date: December 21, 2010



Introduction:

WThere are those who believe that Angelina Jolie is really an animatronic action figure, the sort of stuff that would feed the National Enquirer for weeks - “Autopsy reveals . . . .”  Her latest movie, released in theaters only five months ago, written by Kurt Wimmer (Street Kings, The Thomas Crown Affair) and directed by Phillip Noyce (Rabbit Proof Fence, The Saint, Patriot Games) is likely to nothing to dissuade hard core believers.  They are likely to find a movie that stretches believability and coherence to and beyond the breaking point will make their position that much easier to sell.


     


But such a point of view - and my reading of many commentators, amateur and otherwise, suggests this in their subtext - fails to take into account the James Bond franchise and the Bourne movies, to name the obvious examples.  All of the Bonds, until Daniel Craig anyhow, tend to fill the bill as fashionable action figures, and little else other than a way with a cryptic remark.  Their women, their villains, their toys and the genius of the stunt director conspired to make 007 the successful string of movies it is.  But Bond, save Craig I think, remains something other than human.  Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne once had humanity and we see it lurking behind the actor’s eyes, but those movies depend on devious, cynical plotting and brilliant stunts, without which all we have is a half-dead character portrayed with all the humanity that a good actor can muster.


     


Evelyn Salt is a kettle of a different stripe, to mix as many metaphors as I can in as short a phrase.  As expressed by the awesome at so many levels Angelina, she seems to be able to do anything that Bond can do and then some, but she can get hurt, too.  Not just physically - and there is some serious bruising to be found in Noyce’s movie - but emotionally.  Most of her pain is subtly conveyed in quiet reaction close-ups that Bond would not have allowed.  We can read an entire book chapter in Angelina’s face as she contemplates her husband at the end of the barge scene.


     


The Movie: 8

Evelyn Salt is two years hence her horrific experience in a North Korean prison where she endured the sort of torture Noyce must imagine is rendered unto political prisoners across the globe.  When a release is finally arranged Salt is one busted up woman.  She had been a useful CIA field operative (do not think Valerie Plame here) but seems ready to settle down to a desk job and enjoy some quality time with her husband (Diehl).  Not so fast, Eve.  First she must interrogate a Russian defector (Olbrychski )who, in front of representatives of the CIA (Schreiber) and the FBI (Ejiofor), tells her about a network of sleeper cells groomed from childhood that have already infiltrated influential parts of our government and will soon be given the GO for a doomsday operation that can only spell “DOOMSDAY.”  Then he names Salt as one of those sleepers.  Oh, shit!


     


Evelyn barely manages to escape the building, and from then on until the end of the movie, she is hunted by the FBI, the CIA, the Secret Service and the Russians. Every now and then she does a little hunting herself.  It feels like non-stop action, but Noyce folds in a series of flashback intermezzi that flesh out her story while keeping us guessing until the moment of truth.


     


Image: 8/9

Sony’s Blu-ray for Salt eschews the spit and polish of a typical 007 movie, and instead opts for a grainier grittier presentation, something like the Bourne movies, but a little sharper and less gray, even in the darker scenes.  As expected the opening sequence in the North Korean prison gets the grainier treatment, but once back in D.C., the picture settles down to a generally film-like presentation, with a nice veneer of grain to lend it proper thriller credentials. The print is in excellent shape, as expected, and there are no transfer issues of concern. Blacks are deep, at times a trifle noisy (possibly intentionally so), sometimes utterly without detail, as in the North Korean prison, at other times we can just make out textures.  Color and skin tones are as filmed, I imagine - in any case they make sense and do not waver.  Some close-ups display remarkable detail, but never in any exaggerated way or seemingly to show off what is possible.


     


Audio & Music: 9/6

It wouldn’t be a thriller without some grinding chase scenes, the exchange of gunfire and the grunts of nasty machinery from the weight of heavy metal doors to the power of a huge semi ploughing through the mix adding some fearsome gut wrenching to the nail biting action.  Ambiance and convincing room resonances are also well presented, from a huge cathedral to an elevator.  Dialogue is clear, well shaped and positioned.


     


Extras: 8

In case you were wondering about the discrepancy between disc and feature size, look no further than the Extras which include a PIP mode and a host of high-def featurettes.


I’m not a big fan of Extended Cuts, and here there are two in addition to the theatrical version.  They are: 1:44:04, 1:41:04 and 1:39:59 respectively, all seamlessly edited to take up only a little more than half the disc space. I split the difference and watched the middle cut.  Noyce talks about these versions a little in his commentary.


     


Sony provides a fairly substantial and visitable collection of bonus features.  Noyce’s commentary can be accessed in any of the cuts.  And it’s an interesting listen, if a shade dry.  Toward the end he is abetted by his Effects Supervisor, Robert Grasmere, and Music Editor, Joey Rand.  There is also a PIP “Spy Cam” feature that guides us through various matters of production (historical context, wardrobe, cast & crew interview clips, various behind-the-scenes bits).  The feature pops up only occasionally and the window is smallish (thankfully I have a huge screen, but woebetide those with 40-60-inch flat screens.)


“Salt: Declassified” is the primary making-of segment, and a worthy piece it is. It considers in some depth the title character and Angelina’s performance, her disguises and appearances in general.  The story was originally written for a male protagonist, so we learn what it took to reconsider the role for a woman - a smart move, I think.  Locations, the music score, and the filming of the action scenes are all part of this half-hour feature.


     


In “The Ultimate Female Action Hero” we delve into Angelna Jolie’s characterization of Evelyn Salt and her stunt work - yes, her stunt work. Retired Cold War agents look back at their moves in the spy game in “The Real Agents”.  “Spy Disguise: The Looks of Evelyn Salt” is about what we’d expect - not one of the more remarkable segments.  “False Identity: Creating a New Reality” consdiers the film's digital effects.


In “The Modern Master of the Political Thriller: Phillip Noyce” the director talks about what makes his movies tick; while the cast talks about working with him.  Elvis Mitchell interviews the director in a radio interview on "The Treatment.”


BD-Live and “movie IQ” are also on board.


     


Recommendation: 9

A thrilling ride with a humanizing action figure, courtesy Angelina, at its heart - with fine assists by her co-stars, Liev Schreiber and Chiwetel Ejiofor.  The plot is about as preposterous as anything to come down the pike in a long time, but it really doesn’t matter - unless you’re the sort of person for whom it does, in which case, it’s your loss.  Lots of neat extra features, most of which are actually worth your time.  Thumbs Up.


Leonard Norwitz

© LensViews

December 18, 2010


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