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December 22, 2010
Salt Blu-Ray Movie Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
19/8/201022/12/2010Sony PicturesPhillip Noyce
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1MAngelina Jolie

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Angelina Jolie is quite superb in Salt.

Australian director Phillip Noyce is someone who has had a very interesting career with the 1990's producing movies such as Dead Calm (yes, that's 1989 to be precise), Patriot Games, Sliver, The Saint, Clear and Present Danger and The Bone Collector his output was seen as not only critically, but also commercially successful. Then in the next decade he created Rabbit-Proof Fence, The Quiet American and Catch a Fire which could only be considered box office flops with a total box office of $US23 million in America (although the worldwide total was double that). Turn to 2010 and the director has unleashed Salt starring Angelina Jolie which blasted onto the scene and amassed a whopping $US294 million on a budget of $US110 million. A massive success for the director and the studio, but what’s is about...

As a CIA officer, Evelyn Salt (Angelina Jolie) swore an oath to duty, honor and country. Her loyalty will be tested when a defector accuses her of being a Russian spy. Salt goes on the run, using all her skills and years of experience as a covert operative to elude capture. Salt's efforts to prove her innocence only serve to cast doubt on her motives, as the hunt to uncover the truth behind her identity continues.

It's fair to say that Salt is best described as a mixture of James Bond and Jason Bourne, but with the lead being a female character. Now I'm not just saying there's similarities to those two franchises due to the spy/agent background, but also the quality of the film itself. There are certainly some over the top moments, but it all adds to the fun with plenty of action sequences, and twists and turns, to keep you on the edge of your seat. As we're well aware Angelina is pretty good with action movies (Tomb Raider, while not the best films plot-wise, showed her skills off quite well) and Salt is one of her best with plenty of physical stunt work undertaken by the actress herself. Supporting cast including Chiwetel Ejiofor (2012 and Liev Schreiber (Wolverine) are also up to the task while the director, Phillip Noyce, keeps the movie going at a fair pace.

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Chiwetel Ejiofor and Liev Schreiber.
Interestingly there are three versions of this film presented on the Blu-Ray, and normally this would just mean some extra scenes. That's not the case though as the Directors Cut and the Extended Cut not only add some more scenes in, but also offer different endings along the way. It's interesting to see what could have been and we certainly recommend fans check out each version to see the differences.

It must be said that Salt is a pretty good movie overall. Despite a few plot holes this is a very entertaining film that stands up alongside the James Bond and Jason Bourne films. This is well worth checking out.

Sony Pictures generally have very solid Blu-Ray releases, bur rarely what one would define as exceptional. Salt is a release which we could use as an example of the Blu-Ray format is capable of. On a technical level this Blu-Ray release is encoded using the AVC MPEG-4 codec in the films original 2.40:1 aspect ratio. Not only is the image sharp, but most importantly the fine detail is exceptional, black levels retain this detail, and the colour palette remains natural with realistic fresh tones the result.

Salt is presented on Blu-Ray with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (16-bit/48Khz) track which stands out as something quite exceptional indeed. Surround sound channels and the sub-woofer were all given a fantastic workout during the films duration, and in particular during the many action sequences. Even characters with thick Russian accents are clear to understand at all times and we really can't see anyone finding issues with this release.

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Getting some major air!
If there is one absolutely minor nitpick it's that the track is only encoded with 16-bit audio which means the audio bitrate hovers around 3Mbps compared to 5Mbps for a 24-bit track. Does that mean a reduction in quality? Perhaps ever so slightly, but probably not enough that a majority would notice. Still we would have loved the absolute best quality for this major Hollywood production - even if that meant dropping some of the other audio tracks on the disc.

There are several other languages on this disc besides the primary English Track. Also included is an English Audio Descriptive Service encoded in Dolby Digital 2.0 at 192kbps, Japanese and German DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (16- bit/48Khz) tracks, and both Hindi and Turkish Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks both encoded in Dolby Digital 5.1 at 640kbps. Brief samples of these tracks didn't demonstrate any issues, but of course the Dolby Digital tracks don't quite have the same impact as the lossless Master Audio tracks.

Subtitles for the feature film are provided in English, English SDH, Japanese, German, Dutch, Hindi, and Turkish while Commentary Subtitles are available in English, Japanese, German, and Dutch. Sampling the English subtitle track didn't demonstrate any glaring issues with the accuracy to the on-screen dialogue.

Salt comes to Blu-Ray with a few extras (besides the three versions of the film as detailed above). They are as follows...

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Angelina Jolie blending into the crowd...
Spy Cam: Picture-in-Picture (HD): Available on the Theatrical version of the film only this Picture-in-Picture commentary includes comments and behind the scenes footage littered throughout the film. While it doesn't run consistently throughout the film there's enough here to warrant a watch.

Filmmakers Commentary: This commentary offers an interesting insight into the making of Salt and is well worth a listen on either version of the film.

The Ultimate Female Action Hero (8:05/HD): This is a little bit of a gush piece about Angelina Jolie and how much of the stunt work Angeline actually performed in the film.

The Real Agents (12:33/HD): This featurette is an interesting watch in that real agents have been interviewed and give an insight into what the life is like as a real-world spy and which aspects of the film, such as wearing a disguise, are based in reality.

Spy Disguise: The Looks of Evelyn Salt (5:26/HD): A brief look at the different appearances of Evelyn Salt throughout the course of the movie and her mission. A bit brief and superficial.

The Modern Master of the Political Thriller: Phillip Noyce (9:15/HD): Australian director Phillip Noyce discusses his inspirations for a movie such as Salt. Mildly interesting.

False Identity: Creating A New Reality (7:14/HD): This is a pretty cool featurette where the director discusses the amount of CG used in some of the key scenes in the film.

Salt: Declassified (29:47/HD): This is the lengthiest of the extras on this disc and is the "Making of" documentary which provides a pretty good insight into the making of this film although it does retell a little too much of the storyline at times and many moments already appear in the other extras. Still, there's a lot worse out there and this is worth the half an hour viewing time.

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Finding out about a Russian Spy...
"The Treatment" Radio Interview with Phillip Noyce (27:12/HD): There's no video footage here as this was a radio interview Phillip Noyce did to promote the movie. It's certainly an interesting listen although it would have been nice to have video footage in the studio of him talking, or perhaps even some photos from Phillip Noyce on-set during shooting.

movieIQ (HD): This feature allows you to bring up interesting facts and trivia about people and sequences in the movie after being downloaded from the Internet.

Salt PS3 Theme (HD): With the disc in your PS3, navigate to the Game menu and you can install a Salt Theme - admittedly though it's only a background.

Salt is a pretty decent action movie which will have you on the edge of your seat, but also keep you guessing about motives for quite some time. If you like Angelina Jolie and action movies there's no reason to ignore this release especially on Blu-Ray with such a solid transfer.

Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are Copyright© Sony Pictures. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.