Review: Salt Blu-ray

Salt Blu-ray boxSTUDIO: Sony | DIRECTOR: Philip Noyce | CAST: Angelina Jolie, Liev Schreiber, Chiwetel Ejiofor
RELEASE DATE: 12/21/2010 | PRICE: DVD $28.96, Unrated DVD $28.96, Blu-ray $34.95
BONUSES: featurettes, commentaries, Movie IQ, picture-in-picture
SPECS: PG-13/unrated | 101 min. | action thriller | aspect ratio | audio | English, French and Spanish subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

Angelina Jolie (Wanted) is no stranger to action movies, after all, she is the film version of tomb raider Lara Croft, but Salt sees her not only kicking ass, but also flexing her dramatic muscles. The smart script by Kurt Wimmer (Law Abiding Citizen) tells the story of a CIA agent who is forced to go on the run after a defector accuses her of being a Russian spy. It’s a taut thriller, in which the audience is left wondering whether Salt is a goodie or a baddie.

Salt movie sceneAlong with Jolie’s fine performances, we get great work out of Liev Schreiber (Repo Men) as another CIA agent, Chiwetel Ejiofor (2012) as a CIA operative who’s on the chase when Salt goes on the run, and Daniel Olbrychski (The Unbearable Lightness of Being) as the creepy Russian defector. Fine actor Andre Braugher (TV’s Men of a Certain Age) is wasted in a small role as the Secretary of Defense.

The Blu-ray disc offers three ways to watch the film: the PG-13 version shown in theaters, a director’s cut and an extended cut. The director’s cut is very similar to the theatrical version, except for a handful of changes (personally, we preferred the scenes in the theatrical version). The extended cut takes a different take on the story and offers an interesting alternative to Evelyn Salt’s journey. The theatrical — and to a further extent the director’s cut — lend themselves better to a potential sequel, however, so we can see why that was the version released in theaters.

All three look and sound great in high-definition. The picture is sharp and clear, highlighting all the fast-paced action, and the explosions rocket the speakers.

Sony has packed the Blu-ray with featurettes, and they’re edited and scored to be as energetic as the movie. In “The Real Agents,” we hear from three real spies who are now retired, two from the CIA (a man and a woman) and one from the KGB. It’s fun to hear the CIA lady say that one of the most difficult parts about coming out of the clandestine world is remembering to stop lieing.

Other featurettes detail the visual effects work that was done for the film (that wasn’t the real White House), the many disguises of Evelyn Salt and how they correspond to the types of disguises actual CIA agents would use, and the action sequences, many of which Jolie did herself (she really did climb around the outside of that building — albeit with a wire).

Jolie is interviewed in many of the featurettes, as are co-star Schreiber and director Philip Noyce (The Bone Collector), who seems as though he had great fun building the spy world in this film. Noyce even admits that he wanted to be a spy when he was a kid, so this was a way for him to make a childhood dream come true.

Unfortunately, there is some overlapping information in the featurettes. It’s not much, but you might want to keep your remote handy so you can fast-forward.

Noyce offers commentary on all three versions of the film, telling about the spy history in his own family and giving insights into his decisions that gave us these three different stories. He even brings in some others occasionally to give behind-the-scenes production information, such as the fact that the church scene is actually filled with blow up dolls! Plus, you’ll discover the interesting turn the movie made in the first draft, very different from what’s on the screen.

Sony’s signature feature Movie IQ also is available, serving up trivia about the film as it plays.


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About S. Clark

Sam Clark is the former Managing Editor/Online Editor of Video Business magazine. With 19 years experience in journalism, 12 in the home entertainment industry, Sam has been hooked on movies on since she saw E.T. then stared into the sky waiting to meet her own friendly alien. Thanks to her husband’s shared love of movies, Sam reviews Blu-ray discs in a true home theater, with a 118-inch screen, projector and cushy recliners with cup holders.