Oliver Stone’s ‘Savages’ Review!

4165 3194 Oliver Stones Savages Review!

Savages is directed by Oliver Stone and stars Taylor Kitsch (X-Men Origins: Wolverine), Blake Lively (Green Lantern) and Aaron Johnson (Kick-Ass).  Supporting roles are played by the more seasoned Salma Hayek, Benicio del Toro and John Travolta.  The film is adapted from a novel written by Don Winslow of the same name which came out in 2010.

The story is set in Laguna Beach, which if you’ve been there you know that it is clearly one of the best beaches in California. Laguna is basically mansions by the sea and there’s a reason why all the rich people want to live there: the place is freaking gorgeous.  Stone wastes no time capitalizing off the beauty of Laguna, expressing this feeling of summer fun in the sun, surf and sand as synonymous with Blake Lively’s willowy blonde character O (short for Ophelia).

Aaron Johnson’s character Ben is what some might refer to as a “trustafarian” meaning a rich kid or trust fund baby who smokes weed all day. Only in Ben’s case, he cultivates it and has created a strain so potent that Travolta’s FBI character compares it to regular weed by saying that while basic shwag is like 3 to 5% THC “if you’re lucky,” Ben’s stuff is 30% THC. To which Ben replies “33%.”

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Kitsch’s character Chon has gone through tours of Iraq and Afghanistan so needless to say he’s handy with firearms and basically supplies the brawn to Johnson’s brains in their bourgeoning weed operation. O loves both men and sees them together as making up the perfect guy: Ben’s clearly the sensitive half (as shown by him returning from helping starving kids in Africa) and Chon the thug is the fiery, passionate side with a scar on his face to prove it. This is also further evidenced in the first ten minutes by the clear disparity in their manner of love making: Ben and O have slippery, sensual aquasex in a clawfoot tub (with a view of the ocean, no less) and Chon is seen banging the hell out of O with all of the vigor of 10 Bens.

savages trailer Oliver Stones Savages Review!

This brings me to the subject of the film’s periodic forays into the realm of cheesiness. Perfect example: Blake Lively narrates the film and explains that while she has orgasms, Kitsch has “wargasms.” Then there’s the fact that Benicio’s psycho character cuts his bloody steak with his own personal fold-out knife. But don’t let these minor details discourage you. In the first five minutes I almost thought this movie was going to suck but it quickly grew on me. This is thanks in part to solid performances by Hayek, as the female head of the Mexican marijuana cartel that kidnaps O, del Toro as Hayek’s scumbag enforcer, and Travolta as the dirty fed. Part of what makes the film interesting, too, is trying to figure out who’s playing who.

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There are clear gender themes (coming off the novel) that the film attempts to tackle but just doesn’t have the time. Hayek’s boss lady character is obviously tough but would do anything for her daughter. Lively as the carefree, borderline ditsy, shopaholic rich girl remains incredibly strong throughout her abduction ordeal. In contrast, Travolta and Benicio’s characters as well as the cartel’s lawyer all portray themselves as devoted family men, um, you know, when they’re not killing people.

savages review Oliver Stones Savages Review!

At times Savages seems reminiscent of a Tarantino film, with the spaghetti westernesque music playing in the background. Other times I was asking myself if they were really serious with this stuff. Like when Ben and Chon were driving possibly to meet their doom with the Thelma & Louise music playing and Ben turns to Chon and says “I love you, man.” But if you can forgive the film for those off-moments when it’s either taking itself too seriously or not enough at the wrong times, then you just might like it as I ultimately did. Rating: B+.

Savages Trailer [HD]

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