Savages (2012)

savages_2012_poster
Savages (2012)
  • Time: 131 min
  • Genre: Crime | Drama | Thriller
  • Director: Oliver Stone
  • Cast: Taylor Kitsch, Aaron Johnson, Blake Lively, Benicio Del Toro, John Travolta

Storyline:

In California, the former Navy SEAL Chon and his best friend, the peaceful botanist Ben, are successful entrepreneurs producing and dealing high-quality weed. Chon brought seeds from Afghanistan and Ben used his knowledge to develop the best marijuana in the country. Chon and Ben share the pothead lover Ophelia and she loves both of them since they complete each other – Chon is a powerful and strong lover and Ben is a sensible and loving lover. Their comfortable life changes when the Mexican Baja Cartel demands a partnership in their business. Chon and Ben refuse the deal and the leader of the cartel Elena sends her right-arm in America, Lado, to abduct Ophelia to press the American drug dealers. Chon and Ben ask the support of the dirty DEA Agent Dennis and get inside information to begin a secret war against the Baja Cartel to release Ophelia.

2 comments

  • There is no doubt that I judge this movie more harshly because it is made by a former great film maker. Had this been the first outing of some rookie, which the result feels like, then I would have conceded a higher score.

    Apart from a shallow and pointless love triangle between the 3 lead characters there is nothing here that we haven’t seen before in dozens of other shallow action thrillers. Unfortunately Stone has such a hard on(literally I’m guessing) for the “love story” that he gives it way to much screen time. This is the biggest reason why this mess is overly long and despite being about a drug war is slow and boring.

    There are quite a few other things that the movie does wrong. One simple thing is that all the Mexican characters mix Spanish and English all the time even when talking to each other which I found really annoying. Annoying also sums up the voice over that is used throughout the film which completely took me out of story.

    The two highlights are Benicio Del Toro who is obviously having a blast as a psychotic hit-man and steals every scene he is in. The other is a short but intense action sequence when the protagonist robs the cartel using a combination of US Army and guerrilla tactics.

    The movie is not without entertainment value but is just so shallow and lazy in it’s storytelling that I can’t really recommend it.

  • “It started here in paradise, Laguna Beach, where they say God parked himself on the seventh day, but they towed him on the eighth.”

    Oliver Stone has somewhat been in a professional decline over the last decade or so. He reached the nadir of his career with the ambitious biopic Alexander (2004), a lavish affair that was also painfully abysmal. Can anyone remember what was his last great film?

    If Savages is anything to go by, it is an excellent indicator that the Oscar-winning writer-director of such memorable films as Platoon (1986), and controversial ones such as JFK (1991) and Natural Born Killers (1994), is back in business.

    Don’t expect too much from Savages though, but it is heartening to see Stone expressing himself in ways that is reminiscent of the hyper-kinetic, visually dazzling style that characterized some of his earlier works.

    Stone draws some of the energy from the subject matter that the film explores – the lucrative drug business in Central America. And of course, its collateral effect on those involved.

    Violence and torture is the name of the game here, and Stone, as uncompromising as he is, does not try to hide the sadism and gruesomeness in some of the scenes. In fact, Savages will hit you in the gut with the vomit-inducing sight of decapitated heads of nameless souls in the prologue. Never mess with the Mexican druglords.

    However, two Americans played by Taylor Kitsch (John Carter, 2012) and Aaron Johnson (Kick-Ass, 2010), whose characters run an independent drug enterprise, decide that enough is enough when their Mexican rivals kidnap their shared girlfriend, played by the gorgeous Blake Lively (Green Lantern, 2011), and threaten to slowly torture her to death if demands are not met.

    Despite above-average acting by the lead cast, and the brutal violence, Stone is still able to make some riveting cinema. What he manages to achieve successfully is his astute handling of tone, in this case, a playful, almost nonchalant one that somewhat lends the film a fun, positive vibe amid the suspense and terror.

    Savages also mixes an eclectic soundtrack, supervised by his long-time collaborator Budd Carr, which gives the film energy and rhythm. Despite clocking more than two hours, Stone’s film remains to be one of the more entertaining, high-paced films of the year.

    The climax, which I will not reveal in specific detail, does a Funny Games-esque reversal of fortunes for the lead trio, which may frustrate the film enthusiast, but delight the mainstream moviegoer. Has Oliver Stone gone soft? Maybe, but Savages is no doubt a return to form for a filmmaker many feel has lost his Midas touch.

    Verdict: Oliver Stone is back in business in this brutal crime drama about drug cartels that is also flashy and entertaining.

    GRADE: B+

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