Salt begins with our heroine, Evelyn Salt (Angelina Jolie), being beaten up in a North Korean jail “two years ago” for alleged spying.
Eventually the US government rescue her. Well, if they didn’t then the film would end after about five minutes. Cue some chat back at CIA HQ, or “Rink Petroleum” as it’s called on the outside so the great unwashed don’t twig the fact that the agents are amongst them. As she is about to leave work to catch a plane, she’s asked to help crack a particularly difficult case and if anyone can do it, Salt can.
She’s introduced to a Russian spy dying from cancer, Vassily Orlov (Daniel Olbrychski), who tells Salt a story. One that involves a baby born to a male wrestler and female chess champion, who was sneaked out of a Russian hospital in the mid-70s, telling the parents he had died. Meanwhile, although Lee Harvey Oswald emigrated to Russia in 1959, it wasn’t him who returned to kill JFK, it was a spy called Alek. Thus began the programme to breed a race of spies who would go on to replace American citizens.
When he concludes his story, he states that the latest product is someone who has been placed in New York to kill the Russian President at the funeral of the American Vice President. The name of this spy? Evelyn Salt. Oh, and her superiors in the listening room heard every word of this. D’oh!
Thus begins a chase movie. Is she innocent? Is she a spy? Is she really about to kill the Russian President? What’s all this about replacing American citizens? Confused? You won’t be after this week’s episode of “Soap”! Oh, sorry, hang on…
Salt is all rather daft stuff but there are a great number of brief, cool action sequences so it’s definitely worth a watch. It also features lots of twists and turns, all of which are very effectively-handled. Overall, the film is worth 6/10. That score might’ve ended up a 7 or 8 but was just too bitty and the ending felt like it had been rushed and wasn’t at all satisfying.
Oh, oddly, the film is set in 2011. I wonder why they went for the very near future? It made no difference to the plot.
This disc contains three versions of Salt, and I have to ask – why have three versions on here when they’re not much different in length? Why go to the trouble and expense of getting three versions rated by the BBFC? I didn’t go back and watch the whole theatrical version after sitting through the director’s cut, but while I thought at first – that if every single time, and for the precise duration, that the marker came onscreen, it must’ve made for a very choppily-edited film – I realised when playing a couple of key scenes back on the shorter versions, that some of these featured alternate takes.
The main difference, really, is that the Extended (101 mins) and Director’s Cut (104 mins) have extra violence in them and are rated 15, so the theatrical version was to get a lower 12A certificate for the cinema to show. Okay, it gets more bums on seats but it’s a shame they had to compromise for that. Still, I’m someone who mainly watches films when they come out for home viewing so it’s not a major issue for me. That said, the extra few minutes of scenes in the Director’s Cut were worthy of inclusion so I recommend you watch that version.
Presented in the original 2.35:1 theatrical ratio and in 1080p high definition, the picture is sharp, detailed and colourful with, generally no problems whatsoever. For the record, I’m watching on a Panasonic 37″ Plasma screen via a Samsung BD-P1500 Blu-ray player.
Audio-wise, you get a 5.1 DTS HD MA soundtrack, for which I got the 5.1 DTS version, and as you’d expect with an action film there’s gunshots, explosions and dialogue is fine. No complaints on either score from me.
The extras are are as follows:
- Spy Cam: Picture-in-Picture (Theatrical version): Cast and crew members give their opinion on the film and make comments about it throughout. You don’t have to sit through the entire movie again as these are individually chaptered and come from Angelina herself, producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura, director Philip Noyce, costume designer Sarah Edwards and many more. There’s 27 of these altogether, sometimes with multiple commentators in turn.
- The Ultimate Female Action Hero (8:05): One of a number of featurettes, this one about the fact that Jolie likes to do all her own action scenes and gives it her all. It’s a general puff-piece.
- The Real Agents (12:33): Chat from real spies and various experts in the field of spy stuff.
- Spy Disguise: The Looks of Evelyn Salt (5:26): She has different looks and costume changes through the film, as you might guess from the title of this extra.
- The Modern Master of the Political Thriller: Phillip Noyce (9:15): Philip Noyce has directed some cracking thrillers in his time, such as Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger and Dead Calm, but then he’s also made a few stinkers like The Bone Collector (also with Jolie), The Saint and Sliver.
- False Identity: Creating a New Reality (7:14): Creating difficult CGI shots, even something that sounds simple like having cars driving up to the White House because they won’t let you just drive up to it for security reasons, so for a scene like that, the cars were real and just about everything else was faked. This is quite a neat featurette.
- Salt: Declassified (29:47): A more general ‘making of’ featurette.
- “The Treatment” Radio interview with Phillip Noyce (27:12): More chat from the director if that’s your bag.
- Audio commentary: From director Philip Noyce, Commentary subtitles are available in English, Italian and Spanish.
The menu mixes clips from the film with the theme tune. There are subtitles in English, Japanese, German, Dutch, Hindi and Turkish, with commentary subtitles in the first four of those languages. The chaptering is a low, but usual for Sony, 16 which nearly gets away with it on this film as it’s so short. I work on the rule of thumb for approximately one every five minutes, ensuring one apiece for the opening and closing credits.
Running time: 104 minutes
Distributor: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Cat no: SBR68310
Released: December 2010
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: DTS 5.1 HD-MA, DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1
Languages: DTS 5.1 HD: English, Japanese, German; DTS 5.1: Hindi, Turkish
Subtitles: English and 5 other languages
Widescreen: 2.35:1 (Super 35)
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Phillip Noyce
Producers: Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Sunil Perkash
Screenplay: Kurt Wimmer
Music: James Newton Howard
Evelyn Salt: Angelina Jolie
Ted Winter: Liev Schreiber
Peabody: Chiwetel Ejiofor
Vassily Orlov: Daniel Olbrychski
Mike Krause: August Diehl
U.S. President Lewis: Hunt Block
Secretary of Defense: Andre Braugher
Russian President Matveyev: Olek Krupa
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.