Click to see the Savages Trailer
It’s hard being a celebrity. I get that. Having worked on the inside in Hollywood, I can tell you first hand celebrity is nowhere near all the glitz and glamor it appears to be. Celebrities have problems you and I could never imagine, everything from real-life security threats, to invasion of privacy with their children, to false accusations that threaten credibility, livelihood and marriages.
Having said that, there are perks along the way that offset some of these challenges, one of which is being well paid to play pretend. Another is once they’ve made it, they have the opportunity to tell stories that have the capacity to touch people on a very large scale. The people I admire the most are those who do just that.
Savages is a movie about as far away from making the world a better place as you can get (thus the title, Savages.) Although its only altruistic shimmer is that it touches on the subject of supplying legalized marijuana to dispensaries, its characters mostly live in the darkness of dirty tricks, greed, selfishness, animalistic tendencies, drug lords, crooked cops, overt and toxic violence and murder, kidnapping and general hedonism.
But hey, it’s pretend.
The movie takes place in the wealthy surfer playground of Laguna Beach, California. It’s a story about two business partners played by Aaron Johnson and Taylor Kitsch, whose shared girlfriend — Ophelia, or “O” for short, played by Blake Lively — is kidnapped by a Mexican drug lord played by Salma Hayek. Chaos ensues, and the three try to escape to Indonesia.
There were two acting surprises in this film: Aaron Johnson as Ben — this is a breakout film for him, he’s a British actor who, except for a turn in The Illusionist, we haven’t seen much of before. The second is John Travolta, who offers the only comic relief in the film… a testament to his true acting ability that he can make us laugh even when he’s getting stabbed in the leg:
The film is told through the eyes of Lively, who is predictable as the blond California, displaced rich girl. Benicio Del Toro is the typical down-and-dirty, nasty drug thug he always plays. Hayek breaks the glass ceiling by playing one of the first madam drug kingpins we’ve seen in recent history. Savages is a violent ride, sort of Scarface light, that left me feeling a little confused. At times it felt more like Quentin Tarantino in the director’s chair, rather than Oliver Stone.
Maybe it was the juxtaposition of watching it at a charity event, courtesy of John Travolta and Kelley Preston (who attended the screening and donated the money raised to charity). Maybe it’s because after loosing a child, going through the public trials and tribulations that the Travoltas have been through, I expected John at this point to gravitate toward more meaningful scripts. In some ways I felt like Travolta’s dirty DEA agent in Savages that sold out was just like the John Travolta that is selling out now, by doing movies that are violent and graphic in nature rather than using his influence to tell stories that can uplift us, inspire us and help us find life’s deeper meaning.
But that’s the personal side. On the entertainment side, I give Savages two stars out of five.
This is Lori Martin Gregory for The Voice of Ocala.
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