Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Savages: Movie Review

Entertaining crime thriller devolving into nauseating romantic drama.

Have you ever wanted to see a crime thriller turned into a romantic drama? Probably not. That's why “Savages” is far from a “must see” movie. It's one of those movies that is all over the map – literally and metaphorically, in all possible ways. We go from a romantic idealistic drug world, to a crooked DEA agent, to a violent comedy-filled drug world, to a philosophy on life and love all with stops in between for a three-way romance. 2012

Directed by: Oliver Stone

Screenplay by: Shane Salerno, Don Winslow, and Oliver Stone

Starring: Taylor Kitsch, Aaron Johnson

Let's start with the three-way romance. It involves three actors with widely varying degrees of competence playing three characters who are supposed to be completely different from one another. Chon (Taylor Kitsch) is an army vet fresh from tours of Iraq and Afghanistan ready to turn their pot business into a typical drug business. Ben (Aaron Johnson) is a peace-loving, Buddhism-embracing hippie botanist growing pot just for the love of growing pot. Ophelia (Blake Lively) goes by 'O' and she claims she's the only one holding them together. She mentioned, but then she must have forgotten, that they were friends long before they met her. Just to clear up any confusion, Aaron Johnson is the talented one of the bunch.

I'm not sure when exactly Blake Lively lost her charisma but it could have something to do with the lack of substance to her character. O is the narrator, trying to explain love to us, defining 'savages' for us, and then being our connection to this messed up world where American business partners get caught up in the drug war with the Mexican cartel. The problems are that she is wrong, inconsistent and unnecessary. There are much better ways to introduce us to this violent drug war than using some two-timing, blonde, beach floozy.

It turns out that O is consequential to the plot, and it actually is a good plot. The Mexicans want Chon and Ben's business but they don't want to give it to them. So the Mexican's take something else, and Ben and Chon have to resort to lies, violence, trickery, criminal actions and some more double-crossings. This takes place as they are all caught between the paradise beaches of California and the gritty streets of Mexico. Against my better judgement, I was enjoying myself as Chon and Ben used everything up their sleeves to get what they wanted.

“Savages” is entertaining with the violence inter-cut with comedic one-liners, and then gratuitous sex thrown in for no good reason. But this is perhaps one of Oliver Stone's poorest written and realized films. The original idea was probably much better in his head.