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Movie Review: Savages

James Henderson image

James Henderson wrote this review 5 years and 6 months ago

2     0



Rated R

Directed By: Oliver Stone

Starring: Blake Lively, Salma Hayek, Taylor Kitsch, Aaron Johnson, Gary Stretch, Benicio Del Toro and John Travolta

Release Date: July 6, 2012





When you're a director like Oliver Stone, it's hard to maintain a high standard of quality movies after decades of successful films. I wouldn't put this movie in the same vein as Born of the Fourth of July or Wall Street, but it reveals a raw image between two different worlds drug dealers that's rarely seen.

The first mistake of this movie is Blake Lively's narrations. She's Ophelia(O), the muse that's shared between master cannabis botanists Ben and Chon. Her monologues soften up the story too much, especially towards the end. This was an unsuccessful attempt to make Lively's role more important than exactly what she was supposed to be; the blonde bimbo love interest with a pretty face and nice bod who gets caught in the crossfire of a drug deal gone sour. Taylor Kitch and Aaron Johnson played off well together. At first I thought they were just a couple of airheads, but I was impressed by their conflicting behaviors and belief systems which made some interesting scenes while butting heads. However,  Johnson's character could've been more convincingly dangerous to tangle with these ruthless Mexicans, especially if him and Kitch were portraying independent pushers. Ben and Chon definitely had street smarts that was well displayed during the negotiation scenes, but they reminded me of Captain America and Thor in some cases. Even though Bo was the warrior of the duo, I think Chon should've been more psycho and less spineless to make a convincing match against Elena(Hayek) and her henchmen.

Savages.jpgKitch(Chon),Del Toro(Lado),Lively(O), and Hayek(Elena)

The most entertaining parts definitely involved Selma Hayek's character Elena and Lado, played by Benicio Del Toro. In real life, Mexican drug pushers like these would've had Bo and Chon's head blown off in five minutes. Del Toro played Lado as a disgusting, filthy, but dangerous villain. His violent and tortuous moments made you really want to hate him. I didn't appreciate his comedic moments to soften his character because it wasn't necessary. Of course, nobody can get enough of Selma's pretty face.  But even her character should've been less compassionate towards Lively's character. Elena could've displayed more violent behavior to look more heartless and sinister. Her verbal spats of frustration toward Lado were the highlights of her performance.

What can I say about John Travolta? Love him as an actor, but he's been playing the same middle-aged, wisecracking version of all his roles recently.

One of the reasons Savages fell short of spectacular because it became predictable and corny by the end. As original as the premise was, you could already figure out exactly what Bo and Chon had to do in order to get O back. Another reason why this movie fell short because it tries to hard to twist the ending. After everything we've witnessed throughout the movie, the twisted ending is slapped together in five minutes like crazy glue. The extreme violence, profanity, nudity, a hanging eyeball and the splattering of blood and brain tissue made me wonder how much footage was trimmed to get an R rating. Regardless of the amount of graphic footage, Savages sends a clear message of why you shouldn't go into the drug dealing business.


Grade: B-

Stars: 4.0/5.0




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