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4.4 out of 5 stars22
4.4 out of 5 stars
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 20 September 2012
The Salton Sea is directed by D. J. Caruso and written by Tony Gayton. It stars Val Kilmer, Vincent D'Onofrio, Peter Sarsgard, Doug Hutchinson, Anthony LaPaglia, Debora Kara Unger, Adam Goldberg and Luis Guzmán. Music is scored by Thomas Newman and cinematography by Amir Mokri.

Danny Parker (Kilmer) is hanging out with a bunch of methamphetamine users, apparently in an effort to numb the pain of his one time life that saw his wife murdered. Or is he?

The word of mouth for it was strong, but no sooner did it hit cinemas than it disappeared off the face of the earth. However, the cult cinema world is often a vibrant place to lurk, enter there and you find The Salton Sea, a wonderfully tricksy and off beat neo-noir awash with misery, revenge, redemption and odd ball characters that are either stuck in purgatory, or heading to nowhereville.

Protagonist Danny Parker leads the film, a man whose identity is fractured after being dealt a blow from the hands of fate, very much in limbo mentally, he none the less has goals to achieve, nothing is never quite as it seems until director Caruso wants us in on the side-shifts. Danny is often in the company of danger and weird characters, from a hopped up harpoon wielding loon, to a no nose psycho (too much meth up the nose will make you lose it kids), via dirty cops and meth heads, it's a world of unease, the twisty plot drawing the viewer in with a kinky smile on its face.

Caruso also pulls off the neat trick of placing humour in this off kilter world without hurting the dramatic harshness of the thematics. There's a quite brilliant sequence that shows a botched crime being attempted by the meth head crew, this we watch at the same time as they discuss about actually pulling the crime off. That it involves a stool sample from Bob Hope should tell you all you need to know about the intelligence of the wannabe perps! Caruso's camera is fluid and he uses certain neo-noir visual tricks of the trade as well (time lapses etc), and he also has a knack for varying the mood without avertying the slowly bubbling to the surface pace that the story requires.

Kilmer is superb, perfectly low-key, there is no need for rage, the yearning for revenge and redemption, for identity, is brought out via calmly delivered dialect, and it's very affecting. D'Onofrio as Pooh Bear, the afore mentioned no nose fella, steals the movie with another of his off the planet nut-jobs. Elsewhere, Sarsgard is as appealing as he has ever been as Danny's stoner best mate, Hutchinson and LaPaglia cut fine figures as dirty cops, while Guzmán and Danny Trejo leave an impressively grungy mark. The only disappointment is the lack of screen time for Kara Unger, a fine actress, she is playing what turns out to be a critical femme fatale role, but really we needed more of her. It's a rare misstep in an otherwise cracking neo-noir that is highly recommended to fans of similarly devilishly fun pictures. 8.5/10
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on 13 February 2010
The director D.J. Caruso who brought us the features Disturbia in 2007 and Eagle Eye in 2008 earlier in his career he directed this modern day film noire called The Salton Sea, the title refers is the biggest lake in California, this is the back-drop for the excellent Val Kilmer to bring to the screen two great roles, one in the form of the drug addict with a little dealing on the side Danny Parker the other of the trumpet player Thomas Van Allen, this film is superbly shot with a great deal of style and brings the world of the speed and crystal meth head to life with some really disturbing scenes and characters which the actors playing the parts throw themselves thoroughly into.

The DVD is presented in Full frame with an excellent transfer and has excellent 5.1 surround sound that really brings the sleazy world to life.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 8 December 2015
In this relatively unknown neo-noir revenge crime thriller Val Kilmer gives an assured and understated performance as a California jazz musician who finds himself trapped in an almost unbearable anarchic and violent drug subculture and deciding on a decisive course of action. The depiction of addicts and dealers is unsavoury and realistic with some disturbing scenes involving a grotesque character known as ‘Pooh-Bear’. Despite the narrative at times being disjointed and confusing the overall presentation of hopelessness and exploitation is extremely effective. Both the cinematography and musical score contribute to the overall dissolute tone of the movie which lingers in the memory long after the final reel. Not a classic film by any means, but certainly one which will be remembered.
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As a previous reviewer has said if you are uncomfortable with scenes of drug abuse you won't like this film.
It reminded me of another Kilmer film, 'Wonderland', which also made me want to switch off but both films had drugs at the center of their plots and it was worthwhile sticking with them as they turned out to be very entertaining.

Kilmer is excellent even though he plays an apparent bum.As the plot thickens his agenda is slowly revealed---revenge!
Astounding performance by Vincent D'Onofrio, almost unrecognizable as a disfigured drug dealer/user who steals every scene that he is in.And brought so much humour to the film that makes it a good watch.
Quirky and dark,and not everybody's cup of tea,but different enough to recommend a viewing.
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VINE VOICEon 21 March 2009
I had never heard of this film, and I bought it based on reviews, which I am now happy to add to. This is a cracking film. with twists and turns and a plot that is never quite what it seems. It also as one of the best portrayals of drug-culture ever shown. Val Kilmer is mesmerising in the lead, and you always want to know what happens next. Ably supported by a well-known cast, he proves yet again (Tombstone?) that he is a consummate professional actor. At this price, you can't go wrong!
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on 1 October 2004
Val Kilmer turns in one one his better efforts here in this stylish film noir. He plays Danny Parker, a 'rat' trying to get revenge on those who murdered his wife. But in order to do that, he's got to help the killers first. The plot has been done plenty of times before, but here, theres more refreshing ideas rather than the step by step duplicate of some other film. Plus a great music score from Thomas Newman, this adds up to a very entertaining revenge thriller, which, although might not be to everyone's taste due to some strong violence and sadistic scenes, this film is nevertheless very good indeed. Its a shame that the DVD has so little extras.
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on 19 August 2003
I have to say I was very sceptical watching a film with Val Kilmer. I know he's a superb actor but ever since 'The Saint' every piece of work he has done has been bland and un-original. Then out of the blue a DVD showed up in my local rental shop and I thought i'd give it a look. This film is superb it has everything that hollywood blockbusters are missing; It had good characther depth an interesting and original storyline and some great twists. Vincent D'onofrio (probably spelt wrong) played a warped drug dealer and pulled it off with style. I also have no doubt that we will be seeing more of Mr Kilmer in Arthouse films, if you ask me he's found his calling. BUY IT!!!
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on 26 February 2016
What a cracking film this is, from start to finish it promises, then delivers. From the insane world of a few mad moments of drug fuelled tortured soul, to the very end where salvation is so sweet, this film hooks you in, takes you along for the ride, then let's you win. Great acting, from a great cast. Kilmer at his best.
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on 16 January 2014
the storyline is very dark, so if the whole drugs thing disgusts you, this movie is not for you. Good film / very well acted. -- It would never be a favourite, but well worth watching, especially in view of the low quality of the dross churned out by Hollywood these days.
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on 23 February 2016
This film is damned good. Can't believe I've never heard of it. Good story well told, solid cast doing a great job. Worth your time. I really enjoyed it.
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