SALT (Blu-ray Review)

SALT is one of those films, just like my recent review of Resident Evil: Afterlife, that fall into my guilty pleasure category.  I just can’t help it.  I am a glutton for punishment when it comes to attractive leading ladies and hardcore action sequences and believe me; SALT has plenty of the latter.  Now whether they are believable or not, well that’s a different story all together.  Nevertheless, despite a bunch of gaping huge plot holes and some truly unbelievable stunts and coincidences, I definitely “hearted” my trip to the theater this past July when I checked Angelina…oops I meant SALT out. So I’m going to stop all the whimsical proverbial yapping and start working on your clearance level so I can fill you in on everything you need to know about Sony’s December 21st Blu-ray release of SALT.  Did you want some pepper with that?  Ha ha.  Sorry, I couldn’t refuse.  I know.  Lame!


So you all seen the trailers and billboards this past summer asking “Who is SALT?,” right?  Well that’s really a very valid question.  But before I answer that, I would like to spend a few minutes talking about the origins of SALT and why I think it’s important to understand the film’s history.  It’s a very interesting tale, one that touched even my own personal life.  Are you ready to hear all about it (a million yes nods)?  Great!

I spent the first five months of this year going back to school at Cleveland State University to attend an undergraduate screenplay course to help me develop the script I was working on in my own personal life.  It was a win-win situation.  So anyway, for my second reading assignment I was handed a script written by Kurt Wimmer titled Edwin A. Salt.  In 2007, it was reported that Tom Cruise would be playing the pivotal role of Salt.  Nope, not Evelyn Salt, but Edwin Salt.  How can this be you ask?  Well it’s quite simple.  The SALT film was never written or intended for Angelina Jolie.  It had Tom Cruise’s name all over it.  Now I heard a few different theories about how this all went down, the more prominent being that Hollywood felt Tom Cruise’s character would resemble Ethan Hunt too much from his Mission Impossible franchise.  Another one I just recently heard was that Tom Cruise turned this role down for Knight and Day.  I’m not sure I put too much stock on that one, but I heard it nonetheless.  Needless to say, it seems that some Hollywood execs were shopping around for a female spy franchise for Angelina Jolie and this one perfectly fit the bill.  The original screenplay (written for a male lead) was excellent in my opinion, so I was very interested to see how they would reverse the gender roles in this one.  It’s not like Angelina hasn’t been known to botch up a few roles…um…Tomb Raider!  So let’s just say that I had my doubts.

So essentially, the SALT screenplay is an American spy thriller with international roots re-written for leading lady Angelina Jolie.  In addition to Lara Craft, the cast consists of heavy hitters Live Schreiber, Daniel Olbrychski, August Diehl and Chiwetel Ejofor.  I was fortunate to cover the SALT Comic-Con panel on July 22nd this year (see here) and despite my hesitations with Jolie in this role, there was no denying she looked absolutely stunning that day.  Alright, enough reminiscing.  SALT went on to open the very next day and pulled in a gross revenue of over 293 million dollars this summer.  Not bad!   I guess you can say that it’s highly probable a sequel will follow soon, perhaps maybe after Angelina pushes another kid or two out.

What would you do if you started out your ordinary day not knowing your whole life was going to change forever?  Well that’s kind of a mute question since you wouldn’t know.  But anyway, you would probably kiss your spouse goodbye and go to work as usual not knowing the danger that awaits you later on.  Such is the tale of Evelyn A. Salt.  Upon leaving work one day (she is a CIA agent), a Russian defector named Orlov (Olbrychski) tells her about a plan organized by a powerful Russian spymaster to destroy the United States.  He tells her a tale how Russian children were trained in all things American and sent to the U.S. to live normally until called upon one day.  He also makes a pretty powerful accusation that a Russian spy named Evelyn Salt will kill the visiting Russian President.  Remember in Fight Club when Edward Norton’s character finds out he is really Tyler Duren?  Well, the same thing happens here.  Salt’s jaw drops speechlessly.  How can this be?  Say it isn’t so!  I think even if you did not see this film this summer you can kind of see where this plot is going, right?  SALT takes a Fugitive-like plight as she strives to clear her name, find her husband and ultimately save the United States from annihilation.  That’s a lot to do for a normal day at the office, isn’t it?

What SALT does extremely well is that it delivers the high adrenaline junkie action you come to know and love from the most recent Bond and the Bourne trilogy films.  But keep in mind; this is also from a female perspective too.  Salt is essentially America’s first female a$$-kicking spy.  We needed her.  I mean we the people.  Right?  Well anyway, the action is contagious here.  That’s what kept me satisfied throughout.  Despite the film’s PG-13 rating, they don’t hold back much.  Now if you can get past all the unbelievable stunts, action sequences and plot holes and still have fun with this, then you my friend, have a winner here!  Luckily for me, being a Crank and Resident Evil fan, I can be very forgiving when it comes to unbelievable stunts and zany action so I feel right at home with SALT.  It also doesn’t hurt having an attractive protagonist either.

Sony Pictures’ SALT makes its way to the Blu-ray format on December 21st with not one, not two, but three versions of the film on one Blu-ray disc.  Impressive!  There is the Original Theatrical Version (100 minutes), an Extended Cut (101 minutes) and a Director’s Cut (104 minutes).  I found an interesting read over at Amazon comparing the differences between all three versions.  In order to not spoil anything for anyone who has not seen these films already I took a screenshot and you can see them all by clicking here, if you so choose to.  For purposes of this review, I nestled up with the 104-minute Director’s Cut.  Now let’s tackle the reason why you are all here reading this intellectual piece of writing…the Blu-ray disc vitals!


I’m going out on a limb here and admitting that for the most part, SALT’s 1080p AVC MPEG-4 video encode transfer is quite exceptional here.  Although this one isn’t perfect, I will make the following disclaimer.  Sony has been doing a bang up job as of late with these transfers.  They have come a long way since the early days of the Blu-ray format.  SALT’s 2.40:1 aspect ratio presentation looks strikingly sharp throughout.  There are a few scenes where things get a bit flat and washed out, but they are mostly (notice I say mostly) during the flashback montages.  Even the various wigs worn by Jolie show incredible levels of detail.  Black levels are all deep, but there is a thin veil of grain throughout.  However, none of the grain is problematic, thankfully!  I think overall, fans of the film and the Blu-ray format are going to be quite pleased by the video quality here.  There are no contrast issues to report on and skin tones all look normal.  Any guy (or woman…let’s be fair here) looking for an exceptional peek at Angelina in 1080p, look no further than this Blu-ray.  You will get her in all her a$$-kicking glory…1080p glory that is!


Here’s the part I was really looking forward to while watching SALT on Blu-ray…the audio!  The theater we saw it in was louder than hell.  It’s actually the reason why I fell in love with SALT.  The adrenaline charged themes playing in unison with the over-the-top wild action sequences were perfectly married in this feature and this Blu-ray’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless surround track puts you right in the middle of ALL the action.  And best of all, even on top of all the onscreen mayhem, I never once strained trying to hear the dialog throughout.  I was definitely not let down in this department.  It was just as sonically pleasing as my first aural experience with it back in Los Angeles.  From the moment the Blu-ray film opens until the titles roll, the 360-degree surround field of SALT never disappears.  You have to love that!  I do!

Special Features  

Unlike my usual reviews, I’m going to be kind here because they chose to deliver three different versions of the film.  I like that!  The only thing missing (and I can’t believe I am saying this) is a Digital Copy of the film.  Ever since I have become a Mac user, I live for the easy portability of these Digital Copies.  So yeah, like I was saying.  I ranked this department higher than usual for the three different versions of the film, two different commentaries and most importantly, all Special Features are in High-Definition.  Now how often do you see that?  I’ll admit, it’s getting more and more common, but nothing says loser like a Standard Definition doc on a Blu-ray disc.  Thankfully, there’s none of that to be found here.  Okay, do you have your authorized clearance level yet?  Alright, good!  Let’s take a closer look at the all the Special Features begging to be dissected here.

  • Spy Cam: Picture-in-Picture (HD) – This is only available for the Theatrical cut of the film.  Like the Resident Evil: Afterlife Blu-ray (see my review here), a small window appears in the bottom right hand corner of the screen.  It’s pretty much everything you would expect to see in here (pre-visualization sequences, storyboards, interview clips, behind-the-scenes footage and yada yada).  There’s nothing unusual or out of the norm to report on here.
  • Audio Commentary – Director Phillip Noyce (I really like this guy) sits down with Effects Supervisor Robert Grasmere and Music Editor Joey Rand to discuss all things SALT.  I know very little about Noyce, but after listening to him on this commentary and in the other featurrettes, I have a new found respect for the man.
  • The Ultimate Female Action Here (HD, 8:05) – Hey!  How come there are no SALT action figures?  That would be cool to have one (the little boy trapped inside me sometimes speaks for me).  This is quite the impressive look at Angelina Jolie who is remarkably unafraid of heights and is a glutton for punishment.  She does all her stunts!  Even the ones that are 12 stories high.  Say what you want about the woman, but I am quite IMPRESSED here!  You go girl!  This one is short, but well worth it.
  • The Real Agents (HD, 12:33) – This one appeals to me very much.  What’s it like to be a real life spy?  Why I am glad you asked.  Find out here!
  • Spy Disguise: The Looks of Evelyn Salt (HD, 5:26) – This is pretty much what the title implies…the many looks of Evelyn Salt as she escapes the authorities and lives life on the run.
  • The Modern Master of the Political Thriller: Phillip Noyce (HD, 9:15) – Here’s yet another insightful discussion with the Director talking about what makes things work in his movies.  I think this is another must-see for aspiring filmmakers like myself.
  • False Identity: Creating a New Reality (HD, 7:14) – Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at some of the film’s digital effects.
  • SALT: Declassified (HD, 29:47) – Here’s a little repetition from a few of the other featurettes, but this is an exclusive undercover look at the secrets of making SALT.
  • The Treatment Radio Interview with Phillip Noyce (HD, 27:12) – Here’s a radio segment where Elvis Mitchell interviews Noyce.
  • Trailers – Like my Resident Evil review a few days back, there’s a lot of previews to be found here (The Tourist, The Green Hornet, Takers, Easy A, Red Hill, Eat Pray Love, The Other Guys and Ticking Clock).
  • BD-Live
  • MovieIQ

Final Thoughts  

You all still with me?  Great!  Well this is a no-brainer purchase for fans of the film.  For genre fans of spy thrillers, I think you will be happy with this one too.  It’s a little Dark Angel in its back-story mixed with a whole lot of Bourne/Bond wild action.  Others may want to give this one a rental before committing, but come on, with a low $19.99 debut price tag, can you really afford to turn your back on Angelina Jolie now?  I don’t think so.  SALT comes recommended from me because of its non-stop killer action sequences, pristine video, vivacious audio and a supplemental package that will keep you busy for a few hours…and oh yeah…having three different cuts of the film is always a plus too.  SALT debuts on Blu-ray Tuesday, December 21stPre-order yours now!


Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

8 Responses to “SALT (Blu-ray Review)”

  1. Gerard Iribe

    I enjoyed this film very much.

  2. Aaron Neuwirth

    Yes Brian, the big thing about the making of this movie was that Tom Cruise was in fact the original lead, but he chose to do Knight and Day instead. Ironic thing: Both movies made about the same amount of money, but Knight and Day is considered kinda a flop, while Salt is considered a success, with sequel plans. Oh Hollywood…:)

  3. Sean Ferguson

    I really want to see this since Noyce is one of the best action directors around. I really liked his work on Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger. Even his lesser movies like Blind Fury and Dead Calm are really good.

    I think Cruise thought the plot was very similar to the first Mission Impossible and wanted to take a lighter route.

  4. Aaron Neuwirth

    Whoa, lesser movies? Dead Calm is fantastic. Way better than Patriot Games, the weakest Jack Ryan flick.

  5. Sean Ferguson

    Dead Calm is a well made B movie that is not better than Patriot Games. I agree that Dead Calm is a good movie but I there’s no way it’s better than Patriot Games.

  6. Aaron Neuwirth

    Considering that I don’t think Patriot Games is a good movie (Clear and Present Danger, on the other hand = awesome), we’ll just have to disagree.

  7. Sean Ferguson

    At least we can agree that Clear and Present Danger is awesome.

  8. Aaron Neuwirth

    Hell yeah! Willem Dafoe is aces!