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SALT: Deluxe Unrated Edition (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

December 2, 2010 by  



A pulse-pounding, riveting spy thriller with plenty of twists and turns that will keep the audience guessing.  And just when you think you are done with one film, the Blu-ray features two more versions of the film with the extended version with a different second half and in my opinion, much better than the original theatrical version of the film.  This is one Blu-ray release where I’m confident to say that you will definitely get your money’s worth.  “SALT: Deluxe unrated Edition” is highly recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2010 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. and Beverly Blvd LLC. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: SALT: Deluxe Unrated Edition

FILM RELEASE DATE: 2010

DURATION: Theatrical Version (100 Minutes), Unrated Extended Cut (101 Minutes) Unrated Director’s Cut (104 Minutes)

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:40:1), English, French 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, English – Audio Descrption Track, Dolby Surround English Stereo, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French and Spanish

COMPANY: Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: RATED PG-13 (Intense Sequenes of Violence and Action)/UNRATED

Release Date: December 21, 2010

Directed by Phillip Noyce

Written by Kurt Wimmer

Produced by Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Sunil Perkash

Executive Producer: Ric Kidney, Mark Vahradian

Associate Producer: William M. Connor, Paul A. Levin

Music by James Newton Howard

Cinematography by Robert Elswit

Edited by Stuart Baird, John Gilroy

Casting by Avy Kaufman

Production Design by Scott Chambliss

Art Direction by Teresa Carriker-Thayer

Set Decoration by Leslie E. Rollins

Costume Design by Sarah Edwards

Starring:

Angelina Jolie as Evelyn Salt

Liev Schreiber as Ted Winter

Chiwetel Ejiofor as Peabody

Daniel Olbrychski as Vassily Orlov

August Diehl as Mike Krause

Daniel Pearce as Young Orlov

Hunt Block as U.S. President Lewis

Andrew Braugher as Secretary of Defense

Olek Krupa as Russian President Matveyev

Cassidy Hinkle as 12-Year-Old Chenkov

Corey Stoll as Shnaider

Vladislav Koulikov as Chenkov’s Father

Olya Zueva as Chenkov’s Mother

Angelina Jolie stars in Columbia Pictures’ Salt, a contemporary espionage thriller. Before becoming a CIA officer, Evelyn Salt (Jolie) swore an oath to duty, honor, and country. She will prove loyal to these when a defector accuses her of being a Russian sleeper spy. Salt goes on the run, using all her skills and years of experience as a covert operative to elude capture, protect her husband, and stay one step ahead of her colleagues at the CIA.


Trailer

Move over James Bond!  Stand aside Jason Bourne! Welcome Evelyn Salt.

If there is one formula in Hollywood that seems to work, that is having actress Angelina Jolie as your action star. The actress has appeared in several action-based films such as the “Tomb Raider” films, “Wanted”, “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” and her films continue to be box office hits but her role as Evelyn Salt may just be what Hollywood has been wanting and needing, a femme fatale, a spy who literally kicks ass!  And there is no doubt about it, Evelyn Salt kicks ass and the potential of her character is fantastic.

In 2010, Jolie’s spy thriller “SALT” became another dominating hit film in the box office for the actresss raking in over $293 million worldwide and now the Blu-ray and DVD release of “SALT: Deluxe Unrated Edition” will be released courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment on December 21st.   And for those who love the film, will enjoy more of Evelyn Salt as you get three different versions of the film.

“SALT” is directed by Phillip Noyce (“The Patriot Games”, “Clear and Present Danger”, “The Bone Collector”) and features a screenplay by Kurt Wimmer (“The Thomas Crown Affair”, “Law Abiding Citizen”, “Ultraviolet”), music by James Newton Howard (“The Dark Knight”, “The Sixth Sense”, “The Fugitive”) and cinematography by Robert Elswith (“Duplicity”, “There Will Be Blood”, “Michael Clayton” and “Boogie Nights”).

“SALT” begins with a woman named Evelyn Salt (played by Angelina Jolie) being tortured by North Korean soldiers who accuse her of being a spy.  Evelyn pleads that she is just a businesswoman and is later released in a trade deal organized by her husband, Mike Krause (played by August Diehl).

We quickly learn that Evelyn is indeed a spy and works for the CIA.  She works alongside Ted Winter (played by Liev Schreiber) who are planning to call it a day in the office and Evelyn is looking forward to her anniversary date with her husband.

But as the two are about to leave, they receive word that a Russian defector named Vassily Orlov (played by Daniel Olbrychski) is at their office and needs to be interrogated.  The two decide to quickly interrogate Orlov and as Evelyn is questioning Orlov, he tells them a story about how in Russia during the ’70s, children were taken and created to be spies since birth and went through rigorous conditioning so they would remain loyal and unbreakable.  He also tells them that by tomorrow, during the funeral of the late Vice President in New York City, the visiting Russian president will be killed by one of those spies.

At first Evelyn doesn’t believe in anything that Orlov is saying but when Orlov said that the Russian president will be killed by a spy, he says the spy is Evelyn Salt.

Because of procedure, Counter-intelligence agent Peabody (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor) is concerned that she may be a mole and must hold Evelyn for interrogation.  Ted tries to defend her and what she has done to honor America by her service but Peabody reminds him of the rules.  Evelyn is frantic and wants to contact her husband Mike, fearing for his safety but he is not answering the phone.  Evelyn denies being a Russian spy and is put in the interrogation room.

As Orlov is being taken out of the room and leaving with other agents in an elevator, he ejects a knife from his shoe and kills the guards and escapes.  The CIA building is on red alert and while they focus on Orlov, Evelyn begins making her escape from the building.  Peabody, Tim and other CIA agents are now pursuing Evelyn.

Evelyn heads back home to check and see if Mike is there but her dog alerts her to a fallen chair and realizes that Mike must have been taken.  She flees her apartment right when the CIA are about to get her and grabs what she needs for her escape and the CIA not far behind begins their chase after Evelyn Salt, because of her unusual actions, now makes Peabody and Tim believe that she is a double spy and may be out to kill the Russian president.

As Evelyn changes to a new disguise, she heads to the funeral area and Peabody and Tim fear that Evelyn may be nearby.  Evelyn makes her way to the funeral but goes underground via the tunnels underneath the church and while the church is heavily secured, manages to detonate the floor of the church to the tunnels and the Russian president falls down and we see Evelyn Salt shoot and kill the Russian president.

With Peabody and Ted shocked that Evelyn has killed the president and what Orlov said was true, Evelyn is then taken by NYPD.  The CIA try to tell them that they need to take her in but the NYPD tells them that it is their jurisdiction and nothing can go wrong.  While being escorted in a police SUV, Evelyn uses her quickwit to disable the officers sitting next to her and use their stun gun on the driver and then using the police SUV to ram and stop the other NYPD vehicles that are following her and eventually crashing from an overpass into crowded traffic.  Once again, Evelyn Salt has escaped from them.

We then see Evelyn now meeting with Orlov and we realize that Evelyn is indeed a Russian spy and was one of the children conditioned at a young age by Orlov and now the new instructions are to kill the President of the United States and create “Day-X” which will lead to the destruction of the United States.

“SALT: Deluxe Unrated Edition” comes with three different versions of the film.  While there will be two DVD releases of the film, one with the original theatrical edition and the other with a director’s cut and extended edition.

As for the Blu-ray release of “SALT: Deluxe Unrated Edition”, It is important to note that there are three different versions of the film.  The original theatrical edition and the extended edition are literally two different films in which the story of both films tend to go on different paths right after Evelyn meets up with Orlov.

The director’s cut has a few slight modifications to the original theatrical edition with a voice over that changes the ending of the original theatrical version of the film.  So, in essence, each of the three versions of “SALT” have a different ending.

VIDEO:

“SALT” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1).  The picture quality of “SALT” is absolutely fantastic.  “SALT” is a film that looks absolutely magnificent on Blu-ray.  The colors are vibrant, blacks are nice and deep and plenty of detail galore.   The cinematography by Robert Elswit combined with the visual effects really make “SALT” look realistic.  From the scenes on the White House lawn to the visual effects to make New York look lively from high above to the detail of Angelina Jolie’s hair and her teary eyes.

I didn’t detect any blurriness, compression artifacts, banding…no visual blemishes at all.   “SALT” looks absolutely beautiful on Blu-ray!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“SALT” is presented in English and French 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital and an English – Audio Description Track Dolby Surround English Stereo.  Because this is an action film, you can expect a solid lossless 5.1 DTS-HD soundtrack.  From crowd ambiance, glass shattering, cars crashing into each other, bullets hitting metal,  bullets zipping to trains on the tracks and many instances of things blowing up, there is a good amount of sound being diverted to the surround channels and just enough LFE that makes “SALT” really envelop the soundscape in your viewing area.

There is not one scene that I can say this is where the best sound is because these action sequences are so frequent and numerous that you can expect an active soundtrack throughout the film.

Dialogue is crystal clear, as with the music soundtrack coming from the front and center channels.  “SALT” features a wonderful lossless soundtrack that compliments its wonderful picture quality.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“SALT” comes with the following special features:

  • Added Footage Marker – A marker that is activated during the viewing of the film and points out the differences between the unrated director’s cut and unrated extended cut as compared to the theatrical version of the film.
  • movieIQ – If you are watching “SALT” on a Blu-ray 2.0 player connected to the Internet, you can pull up cast information and other information about the film.
  • Spy Cam: Picture-in-Picture – While watching “SALT”, you get a picture-in-picture sequence in which the filmmaker, producer or talent talk about the various scenes of the film and you get to see the behind-the-scenes making of various scenes from “SALT”.
  • The Ultimate Female Action Hero – (8:04) Director Phillip Noyce, producers and cast talk about how Angelina Jolie is an awesome actress who is willing to take on fearless role.    Angelina Jolie talks about how she wanted to be a Bond/Bourne that happens to be female, while not playing a female action star.  And how a lot of the stunts were done by Angelina Jolie.
  • The Real Agents – (12:32) Real agents talk about their work done during the cold war.  Former CIA and KGB agents discuss their secret lives that they lived.
  • Spy Disguise: The Looks of Evelyn Salt – (5:26) Angelina Jolie and Sarah Edwards (costume designer), Colin G. Jamison (hair stylist) talk about the various disguises that Angelina Jolie uses throughout the film.
  • The Modern Master of the Political Thriller: Phillip Noyce – (9:15) Director Phillip Noyce (“The Patriot Games”, “Clear and Present Danger” and “The Bone Collector”) talks about working on a film that deals with fear.  The director cast talk about a film based on the Cold War and the intrigue of spy stories.
  • False Identity: Creating A New Reality – (7:14) A feature on the visual effects of the film, especially what was needed to recreate the White House, the building and elevator scenes and creating the effect of a busy city street and more.
  • “The Treatment” Radio Interview with Phillip Noyce – (27:12) KCRW host Elvis Mitchell interviews Director Phillip Noyce for “The Treatment” radio show. Noyce talks about his intrigue of spies, the real story about the Russian spies that were caught in America,
  • SALT: Declassified – (29:45) A featurette on the making of the film.  Director Phillip Noyce talks about working with Angelina Jolie and his intrigue of reading the script.  Angelina Jolie talks about how the film was originally created for a man and more and how it departs from the original story.  The cast talk about their characters and more.  Note: Do not watch this featurette before watching the movie as there are many spoilers.
  • Filmmakers’ Commentary – Audio commentary by Director Phillip Noyce who talks about his father who was an Australian spy.  Noyce also talks about his love for creating a spy film and how the earlier script was much different than the finished film and how it was originally crafted for a male character.  Joey Rand (music editor) gives his commentary about the music of the film.
  • Unrated Filmmakers’ Commentary – The same commentary as the one above but includes commentary for the unrated director’s cut of the film.
  • Unrated Extended Filmmakers’ Commentary – The same commentary as the one above but includes commentary for the unrated extended cut of the film.

A pulse-pounding, spy thriller with twists and turns from beginning to end, Angelina Jolie absolutely embodies the new line of action hero stars like Bond and Bourne.  “SALT” was an awesome film and on Blu-ray, it’s even better because you get three versions of the film.

But there is so much that I loved about the film.  For one, it was great to see a female heroine (or is she a villain?) and Angelina Jolie did a magnificent job!  According to director Phillip Noyce, Jolie wanted a Bond-like character and simply, the character of Evelyn Salt fit perfectly.   Also, a wonderful job by actors Liev Schreiber, Chiewetel Ejiofor and Daniel Olbrychski.   But it’s hard to talk about these characters without spoiling the film, also its even more difficult to even talk about the original theatrical version of the film now that the Blu-ray release has these different versions.  And dare I say, the director’s cut and the very different extended version were much better than the original.

So, I’m not going to even bother discussing what I liked about the original film as this is one of those rare moments for a Blu-ray review where the original theatrical edition may not mean as much as you may have a liking towards the other two versions of the films.  I have to admit that when I watched “SALT: Deluxe Unrated Edition”, I figured that this release would have wonderful PQ and AQ, especially since it was an intense spy thriller with so many action scenes, that was a given.  But I was not expecting a film that would literally feature a different second half and become a whole new different story.  It was wonderfully done and to be truthful, I kind of wished that the extended version was the original theatrical version.  But still both this and the director’s cut of the film were well-done and a major improvement over the original.

According to director Philip Noyce, the change of endings was the filmmaker trying to keep the focus of who is the ultimate villain to one character than the other.  He enjoyed both versions, I enjoyed both versions and I have no doubt that the viewers will too. Unlike other films which have various versions included on a Blu-ray disc. typically they don’t exactly add much to the film but in the case of “SALT”, these three different versions of the film included are quite substantial.  But for me, the extended version literally ends with a bang and has a memorable shot of Evelyn Salt.  A shame the extended version was not used for the theatrical version as it would have been a classic shot.

And just when you think you have watched all three films and that you are done, there is somewhat of a fourth way to watch the film in which you can watch the film but have a picture-in-picture segment on the making of “SALT”. You also get audio commentary for each of the three films.

Granted, it’s the same commentary but with additional commentary supporting those differing scenes or added footage.  You also get a good amount of special features, especially an interesting featurette by former spies from the CIA and KGB who talk about how life really was for a spy plus other featurettes such as radio interview, visual effects making of, disguises of Evelyn Salt and more.  And last, for the videophiles and audiophiles, “SALT: Deluxe Unrated Edition” is fantastic!  Awesome PQ and AQ to literally round out this magnificent Blu-ray release.

Overall, if you enjoyed “SALT”, you’re going to love “SALT: Deluxe Unrated Edition”.  Such a refreshing character and I am hoping for a sequel!

Highly recommended!






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