Salt - Blu-ray Review

'At the halfway point Salt wakes up and starts making you pose some more considered questions than 'what the hell is going on here?''

Like Inception earlier in the year, Salt deserves a massive amount of praise for its willingness not to treat its decidedly mainstream target audience as a bunch of idiots. Any film that does so, particularly if it's a modern blockbuster, should be applauded: we aren't morons, we can keep up with fairly simple plot machinations and we don't need reams and reams of needless exposition to do so.

That said - and at risk of flipping the above on its head to prove my idiocy - the lack of explanations early on is both Salt's simultaneous strength and weakness and I for one found myself all at sea in an opening that sees Russian spy Orlov (Daniel Olbrychski) enter the CIA and say some fairly innoculous things that make top agent Evelyn Salt (Angelina Jolie) blow up various bits and bobs and dart out of the office at top speed. All becomes clear later on but playing around with inauspicious and ill-explained openings just so your conclusions make sense is a dangerous game and Salt teetered on the brink of losing my focus on more than one occasion.

What this meant was that the opening thirty minutes or so of the film seems to be a flimsy excuse to have Jolie do some James Bond-alike stunt work. She improvises an explosive device out of a fire extinguisher, jumps on to (and off and back on to) a moving truck, hijacks a motorbike and goes some way to changing her identity. With the motivations of her character unclear though, this seems particularly meaningless and aside from the simple joy of watching some standard action visuals Salt struggles to grab your attention in a plot sense.

At more or less the halfway point though, Salt wakes up and starts making you pose some more considered questions than 'what the hell is going on here?' The dynamic between competing superiors Liev Schreiber and Chiwetel Ejiofor is never quite exploited to full effect but it features strongly enough to provide some supporting meat around the edges. Likewise, a scene on a barge marks the film (and possible franchise) out as one unafraid to take risks, something which parts of the conclusion seek to confirm.

Jolie is fine in the lead although during some sections (The White House infiltration in particular) the script lets her down slightly and the effects work could be better. In one scene, the actresses' makeup is so bad she looks like an extra from Bo' Selecta and Salt's lift-shaft traverse a few moments later apparently sees her turn into Spider-Man. In all though, the film is good fun with a different set of problems to your average actioner, thanks to a willingness to take risks and respect the audience. With better production values and a sleeker script the muted sequel could make a real splash.

Salt is out in the UK on Blu-ray and DVD on 13th December.

Look further...

'Typical Jolie:
shoot some guns and give some ‘tude;
ridiculous clothes.
' - 24 Hours To Midnight


  1. This is one of my favorite films of the year. I highly enjoyed it. Reading your analysis helped me clarify even further why that is. I think that solely from a personal standpoint I prefer action movies without a whole lot of plot. I actually liked that you don't completely know what she's up to at the beginning. I trusted the movie to get us there. Perhaps that was blind faith on my part but I was so mesmerized by the visuals I was seeing I was willing to go along for the ride.

    Anyway, personal differences aside, enlightening review.

  2. Cheers Nicholas and yes I think that's interesting. What we can both agree on is the fact that the opening third doesn't really bother with 'plot' although, as you say, whether that's a good or a bad thing will be up to each individual to judge. Glad you enjoyed it - the Blu-ray (at least, the UK Blu-ray) has a total of three cuts of the film (theatrical, director's and extended), which change various aspects quite a bit. Considering you liked the film anyway then I would definitely recommend it, at least for a rental.

  3. You forgot to mention that this movie kicked all sorts of ass... awesome action = forgivable plot trouble.

  4. Possibly... I still like some plot with my action but I can see your point: you can forgive some of the first third's troubles thanks to the great action set pieces.

  5. I really liked this and I believe talks of a sequel are currently in motion.

  6. Yes, I've read those articles this week as well. I can see a good franchise coming from it, I hope it happens.