This movie proves what I was writing about yesterday. I saw Salt in theatrical release having lucked into a ticket. I was underwhelmed by it, but the DVD release has changed my mind. What follows is essentially the write-up I did the day after I saw it in theaters.
For all that is good about Salt, it feels a bit rushed. Salt doesn’t get anything easily, but tension never really manages to top out. We just never really believe she could lose a fight that she wants to win. Part of this was the lack of impact was the poorly filmed action sequences. Tracking the various locations of combatants during large chases and following the hand-to-hand was near impossible at times. There was some good fighting and some darkly humorous moments, one in particular that features a taser, but the editing and tight shots never let you really enjoy them. Top off these sequences with a predictable and bland soundtrack and they just don’t sing. They tend to come off like 80s cop show sequences rather than big-screen spy jams. Ultimately, you get a 50-cent ride for your 2 bucks.
Now, you are wondering why that kind of write up gets 4 stars… and a strong 4 stars at that? Simple, I just saw the Extended Director’s Cut, one of three versions available on the blu-ray (it may be on the DVD too, but I didn’t watch that version). The Extended Director’s Cut (not just the Extended version) has two specific changes to the story that make all the difference. This is what DVDs were created for–to bring us these options and choices and expand our experience as well as offer us reviewing opportunities. I don’t want to spoil anyone’s viewing, but watch the Extended Director’s Cut version first, then go back and re-watch the barge scene and the finale for comparison. Entirely different movies. The experience is not a bad lesson in editing and film making as well.
It has been well spread about that Salt was rewritten so that they’d have a sequel opportunity. However, either version of the films provides sequel territory. In my opinion, only the EDC version provides satisfaction for this installment. The structure and motivations are so much more complete and it never feels like it drags. In the theater, it felt too familiar and slow at points… well, that’s what they recut it for–to make a familiar, quasi-female Bourne rather than a new kind of spy–and in the course of that gutted the film. The EDC gives you a much more complete character and, in the end, a better sense of who and what she can be.
And after seeing the EDC, this one may even end up in our collection. Why? Because of the extras!! Are you listening WB and Universal? Sony did it right.