The shared girlfriend (Blake Lively) of two successful drug dealers (played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Taylor Kitsch) is kidnapped when the men’s deal with an infamous and violent drug cartel (Salma Hayek) falls through. Now, when I tell you this film was directed by Oliver Stone, will you believe me when I say blood is shed? Find out that and more after the jump.
Ben (Taylor-Johnson) and Chon (Kitsch) are partners in an extremely successful business selling the highest quality marijuana in all of California. They’re best friends and they’re both in love and in a relationship with the same girl, O (Blake Lively). Ben is the easy-going and the kinder one of the two, whereas Chon can be violent, unpredictable and destructive. Things turn incredibly sour when a deal goes bad and O is kidnapped by Elena (Salma Hayek), a high-level drug lord and her vicious right-hand man, Lado (Benicio Del Toro). To get back the one thing they love, Ben and Chon will do just about anything. With the help of a federal agent Dennis (John Travolta) they set out to both protect their lucrative business, and [above all] get O back so that they can continue to relish their own brand of mayhem and life.
To be clear to those who have seen the trailer for Savages please ignore it completely. Ignore what you’ve seen of this film as [the trailer may suggest] it’s not strictly a grungy revenge flick. It has flashes of extreme violence along with a great sense of humour and breeziness about it all. Where its success lies is in keeping the character and plot’s dimensions in tact. Directed by Oliver Stone, he keeps every scene bright, colorful and kinetic so each moment feels consistent no matter how funny or brutal it is. The screenplay written by Don Winslow (adapting his own novel of the same name), Shane Salerno and Stone himself has multi-layered characters with a complex yet feasible plot, with only the odd line of dialogue here and there not fitting in with the rest of the film.
The performances are of course excellent with Lively, Johnson and Kitsch each out doing themselves, while Del Toro and Travolta as always are fantastic – their roles needing that ridiculous, sinister yet unpredictable vibe to them and oh boy do they deliver. Stone as a director always brings out the best in actors, so none of this is really surprising. However in saying that, the one actor that gives the best performance in Savages, triumphing above all her co-stars is Salma Hayek, as the villainous yet sympathetic Elena. Very few actresses could pull off a role like this and the way she bottles some of the characters’ emotions is incredible. You truly begin to like her even though she’s capable of murdering everyone around her in the most horrific ways. Her multi-layered performance perfectly matches the character to a point where you’ll be questioning who you like more; the heroes, or the villains.
Despite an ending that’ll piss off MANY, and some plot inconsistencies, Savages is a violent yet fun and involving flick, with more than enough to keep you entertained and flabbergasted all at the same time.
Note: Any film that includes an Electric Light Orchestra song to great effect will get at least half a star from this reviewer. Savages does just that.
By Chris Elena
Director: Oliver Stone
Writer(s): Don Winslow (Novel), Shane Salerno, Oliver Stone
Starring: Taylor Kitsch, Aaron Talyor-Johnson, Blake Lively, Benicio Del Toro, Salma
Hayek, John Travolta
Runtime: 130 minutes
Release Date(s): Australia: October 18, 2012; New Zealand: September 13, 2012; USA: July 6, 2012