Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Salt: Delivers exactly what you would expect

Salt (action, crime, mystery)
Directed by Phillip Noyce
Starring Angelina Jolie, Liev Schreiber and Chiwetel Ejiofor

Sony Pictures | 2010 | 101 min | Unrated | Released Dec 21, 2010

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Video resolution: 1080p
Aspect ratio: 2.40:1

English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
English: Dolby Digital 2.0
French: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1

English, English SDH, French, Spanish

Single 50GB Blu-ray Disc

The Film 4/5

Salt is full of action and includes an air of mystery. The opening scene takes us back two years and we see Evelyn Salt (Jolie) interrogated in North Korea. She’s in pretty bad shape after being beaten, but refuses to talk, even when a tube is forced down her throat and gasoline is poured in. She’s eventually released as part of a prisoner exchange and returns to work as a CIA agent. This all happens at the start of the movie and sets up what is to come.

The final thing I’m going to reveal is an encounter with a Russian defector. She’s selected to interview him and discovers that there’s a plan underway to substitute certain Americans with Russians. They become sleepers who will eventually act on behalf of Russia. He informs any agents who might be listening that Evelyn Salt is the name of one such agent.

Salt has a decision to make. Which of her colleagues can she trust? Should she stay and answer the accusations? Would it be better to run and try to prevent other sleeper agents from fulfilling their purpose? She decides to run and most of her colleagues see it as an admission of guilt. We’re placed in her position and it’s one with no obvious solutions. It has the same feel as the Bourne movies, with confusion surrounding her identity.

The CIA isn’t happy that she evaded capture and sends agents to bring her back. This results in a huge chase scene in which Salt makes some unlikely decisions. If you’re a fan of action movies, this is where the story really takes off. The first chase scene happens on a highway and sees Salt making improbable leaps between moving vehicles to evade capture.

Jolie looks capable of making some of the jumps, and we see her continually revise her plan as she flees her pursuers. The story keeps us guessing about the level of her involvement and we can’t be sure what her motivations are. She’s resourceful and uses her intelligence in order to predict the moves of her pursuers and discover the motivations of the Russian group.

If you enjoy movies such as Taken, Wanted, Bourne or Die Hard, this is your kind of story. The first adrenalin rush comes early and we rarely have time to breathe. There is a plot, although it’s secondary to the action. This is a movie that entertains because of its pacing and spectacular chase scenes. There’s not a great deal of thought required, but you will see that everything makes some kind of sense if you think about what you have just seen. Well, it makes as much sense as the average James Bond movie.

If you want to see Jolie running around, climbing, jumping and engaging in hand-to-hand combat, grab your popcorn and enjoy the ride. The loose ends are tied up neatly and the conclusion is satisfying. The acting is convincing, although Jolie never has to show the range of emotion that she achieved in Changeling. Schreiber and Ejiofor are always good and both play their roles well.

Video Quality 5/5
It’s hard to fault the look of the movie. Colors appear natural and detail is strong. There’s a fine layer of grain and the picture has considerable pop. I felt like I was in the middle of the action. Sony has delivered another great transfer.

Audio Quality 5/5
There’s a lot happening on the screen and the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track handles everything that’s thrown at it. Chase scenes sound incredible, while scenes involving explosions and gunfire have the appropriate impact. Dialogue doesn’t suffer either, and the surrounds are active throughout the duration of the movie. The score adds to the action scenes and completes the experience. You won’t have any complaints about the presentation.

Special Features 4.5/5

The additional features all appear in full HD.

Spy Cam: Picture-in-Picture – The movie includes three cuts and this feature is only available on the theatrical version.

Filmmakers’ Commentary

The Ultimate Female Action Hero (8:05) – Showing some of the stunts that Jolie performed.

The Real Agents (12:33) – Former spies talk about their experiences.

Spy Disguise: The Looks of Evelyn Salt (5:26) – A look at the various appearances Jolie used in the movie.

The Modern Master of the Political Thriller: Phillip Noyce (9:15) – Noyce explains why he has good insight into the life of a spy, and describes how he tries to capture the attention of the audience.

Salt: Declassified (29:47) – A thorough “making of” feature that goes into more depth about some of the things covered in the other features.

“The Treatment” Radio Interview with Phillip Noyce (27:12) – Elvis Mitchell interviews Noyce.



Salt is a well-crafted spy movie that’s heavy on the action, although there are a couple of twists in there too. Jolie looks the part and is convincing in her role and the supporting cast does a great job. If you want to be thrilled for 100 minutes without having to think too much, this will get the job done. The Blu-ray presentation is excellent and the special features contain a wealth of additional information if you’re curious.


  1. I just watched Salt after recently changing my employee subscription with DISH to include HD and was totally taken by surprise. I couldn’t believe that getting HD would make such a difference but it does especially in an action flick like this!

  2. I agree and find that I watch a lot more movies because of Blu-ray. The improvement in sound is almost as important as the enhanced picture quality. I can't wait to see more of my favorites released in HD. We need more Hitchcock for a start.

    I'm glad you're enjoying the HD experience.