Salt and Fire | Werner Herzog's strange eco-thriller leaves us thirsting for more

Salt And Fire Veronica Ferres Werner Herzog
(Image credit: © The Movie Partnership)


Salt and Fire Veronica Ferres Werner Herzog

Werner Herzog's disaster movie.

Arriving in an unnamed South American country to report on a man-made disaster, three UN scientists find themselves abducted by masked gunmen. The reason isn’t clear, but in an even more bizarre turn of events, the UN team’s outspoken leader (Veronica Ferres) then gets taken to a giant salt flat and stranded there with two blind boys.

Strange eco-thriller Salt and Fire from legendary director Werner Herzog is a major disappointment. True, there are some stunning images when we eventually reach the salt flats (the real Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia), more than half way through the film. But before then there are reams of quasi-philosophical guff about ecology, prophecy and anamorphic art to endure.

Most unforgivably, Herzog’s clunky direction makes even the great Michael Shannon – playing the eccentric corporate chief behind the kidnapping – look like a bad actor. In a mercifully brief role as one of the kidnapped scientists, Gael García Bernal appears even worse. Forget about the story’s environmental catastrophe, the film is the real disaster.

Certificate 12A. Runtime 96 mins. Director Werner Herzog

Salt and Fire debuts on Sky Cinema Premiere on Monday 7 August. Available on DVD from Matchbox Films.

Jason Best

A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.