In California, the former Navy SEAL Chon and his best friend, the peaceful botanist Ben, are successful entrepreneurs producing and dealing high-quality weed. Chon brought seeds from Afghanistan and Ben used his knowledge to develop the best marijuana in the country. Chon and Ben share the pothead lover Ophelia and she loves both of them since they complete each other - Chon is a powerful and strong lover and Ben is a sensible and loving lover. Their comfortable life changes when the Mexican Baja Cartel demands a partnership in their business. Chon and Ben refuse the deal and the leader of the cartel Elena sends her right-arm in America, Lado, to abduct Ophelia to press the American drug dealers. Chon and Ben ask the support of the dirty DEA Agent Dennis and get inside information to begin a secret war against the Baja Cartel to release Ophelia. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Oliver Stone instructed Blake Lively to take firearm training for her role. Despite not being experienced at the gun range, she hit center mass in her first three shots. See more »
When O is e-mailing her mother about Paris, we first see the headphone remote/volume control knob on her right, but in the next scene it is on her left. See more »
Just because I'm telling you this story doesn't mean I'm alive at the end of it. This could all be pre-recorded and I could be talking to you from the bottom of the ocean. Yeah, it's that kind of a story. Because things just got so out of control.
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Greetings again from the darkness. I guess this qualifies as director Oliver Stone returning to his dark side. Based on Don Winslow's novel, it certainly has the foundation to be a complex, down-and-dirty, twisted plot, double-crossing, love triangle, ultra-violent, drug-dealing smörgåsbord. And while it possesses all of those elements, it still manages to come across as some slick Michael Mann cable TV project.
The film begins with narration from O (Blake Lively) who tells us that just because she is telling us this story, doesn't mean she is alive at the end. Huh?? She also tells us that she is in love with two drug-dealing buddies. Yes, both of them. Chon (Taylor Kitsch) is the ex-Seal and muscle in the business. Ben (Aaron Johnson) is the gifted botanist who turns the Afghan seeds into the most potent pot in southern California. Oh, and Ben is the ultimate philanthropist drug dealer. He builds schools in third world countries and invests in clean energy. After what felt like an eternity, the narration finally ended and I could stop yelling "Shut up, O" at the screen.
One day the boys receive a video via email. It's an invitation to a business meeting with the Mexican Baja Drug cartel. Suffice to say that the video contained no balloons or party animals. It was more of a warning about what happens if you choose not to do business with us. The cartel front men are played by Demian Bichir (fresh off A Better Life) and Benecio Del Toro (MIA since The Wolfman). The queen of the cartel is Elena, played by Salma Hayak. Throw in a corrupt DEA agent, playing both sides against each other, portrayed by John Travolta and all the pieces are in place for real fireworks once O is kidnapped.
The rest of the movie is pretty much the war you would expect with some poor negotiation skills tossed in for fun. Overacting is the word of the day, especially from Travolta, Ms. Hayak and Emile Hirsch (money man). Still not sure what to make of Ms. Lively (The Town). The camera certainly loves her but it's too early to tell if she has staying power as an actress. The only character that is really fun to watch is Lado, played by Del Toro. He is truly a frightening guy who also happens to have a deceptive mind on how to take over from the weak.
The whole good versus evil story line really only works if one side is good and one side is evil. If the good side (Ben) is a drug-dealer in a love triangle with his best friend, it's much more difficult to muster empathy. Otherwise, when the mandatory hostage/money exchanges occur, we really aren't invested in the characters ... and the action takes center stage. That's the sign of a forgettable movie with no real heart.
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