Oliver Stone’s latest movie wobbles with sex and violence. A satisfying “R” rating still makes SAVAGES feel as if Stone is trying too hard to remind a new generation of movie-goers that he was once one of Quentin Tarantino‘s influences and mentors.
In the hands of a Tarantino, SAVAGES would have had much more stylized violence and black humor. Suffice it to say, that this is a straightforward kidnapping thriller with a couple of unusual premises. With its liberal scenes of sex and violence, call it the new SCARFACE.
Set in Laguna Beach, California, SAVAGES is shot through a bright overexposed lens as if the joy of marijuana cultivation was like the the 1960s Summer of Love. This is Stone revisiting THE DOORS as California beach scenes and a nostalgic soundtrack contrast with the harsh current Mexican drug war. Taylor Kitsch (JOHN CARTER) stars as Chon, a back from Iraq veteran who protects his best friend Ben, the botanist hippie throwback played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson (KICK-ASS). Friends since high school, these buddies stumbled across a weed growing fortune as Ben has developed a highly potent strain of cannibus. Chon is the protective muscle, but the third member of this happy trio is “O” a lost girl played as rich bitch stoner by Blake Lively.
O loves both guys, and enjoys rough sex with Chon and “making love” with Ben. it’s a funky family unit that Stone treats with pretty blatant homoerotic appeal as all the nude scenes belong to the guys.
When a Mexican drug cartel tries to muscle in, the partners react differently. Chon the vet wants to fight, while Ben just wants to cash out. But after O is kidnapped, it forces the partners to become… savages as they plan a rescue.
There’s a great ensemble cast led by Salma Hayek as the mob boss and Benicio Del Toro as her hired muscle. Travolta has a small part as a corrupt DEA officer. The main problem with SAVAGES are a couple of illogical moves, and Chon conveniently has an army of his own. This would be a seriously different story if the bumbling duo didn’t have their own hired hands. And if SAVAGES is supposed to be a star-making turn for Kitsch, he’s easily outshone by the always interesting Aaron Taylor-Johson.
Additionally, Stone seems to be playing both sides of the fence. He’s known to be very pro- pot legalization, but there’s some sharp anti-pot dialogue. And the ending seemed as if he took his ending and grafted on a studio-ordered ending, so you get the best of both worlds. Sort of like O.
CLICK HERE for “Savages” official website.