The environment is much discussed these days, and against this background director Werner Herzog has directed a film that is exquisite to watch and offers a story that’s unusual.

“Salt and Fire” has been shot in Bolivia on the country’s Uyuni salt flats, which become a strange and barren setting for the story that unfolds in a sceenplay written by Herzog from a novel by Tom Bissell.

A scientific delegation from the United Nations arrives to investigate geological formations. It is headed by Laura (Veronica Ferres), Fabio (Gael Garcia Bernal) and Krauss (Lawrence Krauss). It should be a simple operation, limited only by the challenge of nature.

But something ominous occurs. Studies of the environment are not always welcomed by those who have business interests. One with such a caveat is Matt Riley, played by Michael Shannon. His henchmen boldly kidnap the U.N. representatives.

The film follows the results, and in particular, the fate of Laura, as the conflict between those with a mission and those assigned to disrupt it plays out.

Herzog, as one might expect, concentrates intensely on the look of the film, with Peter Zeitlinger as cinematographer excelling in scene after scene. “Salt and Fire” is entertaining to watch and also thought-provoking, as Herzog’s films usually are. Reviewed November 22, 2016.

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