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Studio Name: Sony Pictures
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Disc/Transfer Information: 2.40:1; Region 1 (U.S.) Release
Video Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Tested Audio Track: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Director: Phillip Noyce
Starring Cast: Angelina Jolie


WHO IS SALT?


PLOT ANALYSIS:


Angelina Jolips – whoops! I meant Jolie looks absolutely ravishing parading around in the Jason Bourne female counterpart thriller Salt, but there’s more to this than just raw sensuality. This was a clever, rapid-moving espionage actioneer that includes twists you’ll never see coming – trust me. Jolie stars in the title role as a CIA operative Evelyn Salt, who is suddenly thrown into what appears to be a mistaken Russian spy accusation/conspiracy dilemma. Everything is routine for the fast-talking, attractive CIA agent until the day a random Soviet-accented stranger strolls into their headquarters and claims he has secrets to tell the American intelligence community. Salt is asked to step into the interrogation chamber before she takes off work for some personal chores to question this guy and see if what he is offering is genuine or just a bunch of propaganda; sitting across a table from him, Salt begins her interrogation tactics in feeling him out.

The strange Russian man claims to have information regarding Russian sleeper spies (or what intelligence agencies call “moles”) working within the ranks of the CIA, and some other tidbits, but the real kicker comes when he tells Jolie’s character that she is indeed the Russian spy he’s talking about. Shocked and alerted, Salt rushes out of the room as her own partner and other agents corner her before she can leave the building to question her about this accusation. She appears to only be interested in protecting her husband at home, whom she desperately calls over and over but with no success in reaching. From there, we get the feeling that Jolie’s Salt character indeed has something to hide, as she attempts to flee the CIA building and the agents that have taken to chasing her. She ends up being trapped within different rooms in the building, locked down by CIA computer protocols, but because of her extensive training, she manages to worm her way out of each trap they set. Once Salt is out of the building and on the street, a full blown apprehension tactic is deployed by the agents as they chase her through the catacombs of Washington, DC. Director Phillip Noyce adds some spectacular chase sequences here, depicting Jolie jumping from speeding car rooftop to rooftop as the agents close in behind her; the energy during these action setpieces are pretty eye opening, and as exciting as any depicted in Taken, The Bourne Trilogy or any other rather recent actioneer.

Of course, Salt manages to elude the agents after her – including her own partner that is questioning her innocence at this point – and when she arrives at her apartment, she discovers the husband has been seemingly taken in some kind of struggle. The remainder of Salt unravels the mystery behind Jolie’s character and the connection she has to the strange rogue Russian that wandered into CIA headquarters towards the beginning of the film – just bear in mind, nothing is what it seems. Additionally, there is an interesting twist with regard to her partner’s character, who is also very far from what he seems – when the two of them end up squaring off against one another in a White House emergency bunker after the President is physically removed from his power to launch nuclear weapons, the action in Salt really heats up. There is also a subplot involving the Russian that accused Salt of being a Soviet spy and what he plans on “using” Salt’s training for, and that revolves around the Russian president who visits New York to attend the U.S. Vice President’s funeral – it sounds thick and convoluted, but it was interesting. Again – you’ll never see certain aspects of the plot twists coming.

VIDEO QUALITY ANALYSIS: HOW DID THE DISC LOOK?

Many reviews of Salt on Blu-ray refer to the slightly washed out and soft looking images that pop up from time to time, notably in opening flashback sequences – and that’s true. However, the flip side to that coin is also true – that facial details, building structure close-ups and other elements pop in such a way that it can be concluded that Salt is everything a modern 1080p transfer should be.

While not dripping in mind-bending, eye-searing colors, Salt does have its moments of show quality, though most of the film is coated in less-bleached hues. As with films falling into this genre, the Blu-ray transfer renders some sequences a bit flat and uninvolving, notably in interior shots such as within the main character’s apartment or within the halls of the CIA catacombs. But this wasn’t a poor transfer by Sony, at all.

AUDIO QUALITY ANALYSIS: HOW DID THE DISC SOUND?

While not as exciting and in-your-face as many recent audio tracks from Sony releases, the English DTS-HD Master Audio mix in a 5.1 arrangement got the job done. Atmospheric cues, bullets/gunfire, general chaos and explosions were appropriate handled by the corresponding channels, and there was really nothing that remained memorable to my ears one way or another, save for maybe some slightly hushed dialogue levels.

EXTRAS:

There are three cuts of the film on this disc – I only sampled the theatrical original cut, but at some point when I replace the blown lamp on my projection display, I will revisit this title to watch the others.

SUMMARY & RECOMMENDATIONS:

Definitely worth a rental – this spy/intelligence genre in Hollywood has gotten layered with thick, syrupy copycats and spinoffs, but Salt seems to be a bit more interesting than many of them which have come and gone over the years. Jolie kicks some serious *** in certain parts of this, and if you like modern day spy/hero/heroine fighting sequences and battles a la the aforementioned Taken and The Bourne Trilogy, you’ll like Salt.

As for a purchase recommendation…again, the jury is still out on that one.
 
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