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This was not a great movie. It could have been a great movie, but it
was let down in two major ways.
First off, two of the three lead characters are awful. Blake Lively makes for good eye candy, but she just isn't a good actress. She's not bad in smaller supporting roles (like her part in The Town), but she simply cannot carry a lead. Unfortunately the entire film basically revolves around her (and she narrates), so her shortcomings are brought front and center. Every time her voice-over came on, I cringed. It really was not a good choice.
Taylor Kitsch is no better. Again... good eye candy, poor acting. Very poor acting. He just has no soul, and brings absolutely nothing to his character whatsoever. He should be in a brainless Fast & Furious movie playing opposite Vin Diesel, not an Oliver Stone drama.
The second major failure of this film is even more serious, and that is the story structure. We are never really given the opportunity to understand why the three lead characters (Chon, Ben and Ophelia) have such strong feelings for each other. We're told that they do, but never given any real reason to believe it. This is extremely important, because literally the entire premise of the film hangs on their relationship. If you're going to build a dramatic story around an unorthodox three- way relationship, you had better explain in more than one quick scene exactly how this relationship happened, otherwise the audience won't know why they should care about the characters. Especially when the actors portraying these characters aren't very good to begin with.
I know that I kept asking myself why these two guys share a girl, how they have absolutely zero jealousy, why they never once thought of double-crossing each other, and why either of them care so deeply for her -- to the point of being willing to risk their lives and commit horrible atrocities to save her. Where did all this love and loyalty come from? It was never adequately explained, and the entire movie suffers tremendously for it.
On a slightly more positive note, the veteran actors did a fine job. Benicio Del Toro was wonderful as a psychotic cartel underboss, John Travolta chewed the scenery to bits, and Salma Hayek was entirely believable in her role as well. Unfortunately, their competence only served to underscore the incompetence of the younger leads. It's telling that the best scene in the entire film was between Del Toro and Travolta, with none of the three lead actors anywhere to be found, and hinted at the promise this movie squandered.
A lot of reviews took issue with the violence portrayed in the film, but I didn't have a problem with that. You really can't make a movie about Mexican drug cartels without violence, so I didn't feel it was gratuitous. Unfortunately, however, it also didn't make the movie any more believable from a plot perspective.
Overall, I just don't think this was a very good film. I don't think that Stone felt entirely comfortable with what he was doing here, trying at times to be Tarantino but failing miserably. And likewise, I think that if this film had been in the hands of Tarantino or Robert Rodriguez, it likely would have come out much better, perhaps even great.
There are many bad things about this movie, but let's list the good
things first. The plot makes sense, kind of. It's nicely shot, and the
beach looked pretty. And... I guess John Travolta looked as though he
was having fun? Which is more than I could say for the poor buggers who
had to sit through this mess.
Your two leads, ladies and gentlemen, are Aaron Johnson, last seen being upstaged by a preteen girl, and Taylor Kitsch, who Hollywood keeps casting as the lead in blockbusters which then tank spectacularly at the box office. You know why that is, Hollywood? It's because Taylor Kitsch has no charisma. None. The furniture was more interesting than he was, and had more emotional range. Even he's better than Johnson, a black hole of tedium from which nothing interesting can escape. These are two of the blandest leads I've ever seen, and I've seen movies that starred rappers.
But dear God in heaven, they are much, much better than Blake Lively. I haven't seen much else of her acting, so I can only think she can do much better than this. But here she's playing a 30-year-old ingénue, a woman-child who knows Shakespeare but doesn't know what 'savages' means. She's meant to be sexy and alluring, but she comes across as so boundlessly stupid that no man could seriously find her attractive. I don't think that's her fault, but the no-nudity clause that made the sex scenes in this movie so absurd? Yeah, that was her fault.
Even that isn't the worst. There's still... that voice-over. The narration that infests this whole movie, but especially the early scenes, is some of the worst writing I've ever heard. 'I had orgasms, he had wargasms' is a phrase that will live with me until I die. And now, even if you haven't seen the movie, it'll haunt your nightmares, too. You're welcome.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I went to see 'Savages' today with a friend. The movie was truly a
pathetic waste of celluloid and talent. The script seems to have been
written with a crayon.
Benicio del Toro and Selma Hayek are capable of much better than this dreck. Blake Lively was horribly weak and miscast as a poor little rich girl who is in love with two professional pot growers in California. The two guys live and share her with each other, all like a big happy family. Ridiculous.
The only thing even remotely reminiscent of Oliver Stone's finer works is the realistic graphic violence (Platoon, Natural Born Killers). Unfortunately the violence is ham- handed and boring.
At the very beginning of the movie the two protagonist pot-growing-buddies receive a video message warning from the South American cartel headed by Selma Hayek's character. The video is so shocking, so disturbingly violent, that how the main characters react to it is completely non-believable. Attached to the video is a place and time the cartel wants to meet the expert growing duo the next day to force them into a contract with the cartel.---Any normal person receiving this video warning would disappear/pack up and flea immediately. But no, instead the guys chill out, smoke pot, and have sex until the next day as if their lives aren't in mortal danger...this is just one of the major weaknesses in the plot.
Emile Hirsch is completely underused as a bicycling expert computer hacker who is capable of hacking into the credit card companies and international bank accounts of the cartel; he would have been better cast as one of the two main male characters.
John Travolta phones in a lackluster performance as a crooked DEA agent who just happens to have a wife dying from cancer. Whenever he brings her up (we never see her) he is always lighthearted and smiling; he might as well be discussing his golf handicap...
The ending seems to have been decided "by committee." Seems like the studio couldn't figure out how the movie should end so they give us two endings; the film literally rewinds and shows the second, alternate ending....just pathetically bad. There were audible groans from the audience...
The movie is 2 hours 15 minutes; could have been trimmed by a half hour or more...
The plot is a train wreck; Oliver Stone said in a recent interview about the film that the book this is based on had 120 different scenes; he trimmed that down to 30. He said he was more inspired by rather than actually trying for a faithful adaption. This is a real tragedy and the movie suffers for it. Mr. Stone basically was too lazy to get it right; this movie could have been a classic like the Pacino/De Niro masterpiece, Heat. This is too bad as the source book material for 'Savages' is highly regarded.
Truly a bad, poorly written movie. Stupid and logic-defying.
I was excited to see this; I was hoping for a Pulp Fiction/Natural Born Killers vibe (that's what the preview falsely promises).
This is Oliver Stone's low point; he can only go up from here. Please don't waste your time, energy, or money on this bloated, overlong, waste of talent, piece of crap. A true raspberry. Insulting to fans that have come to expect realistic and compelling films from Mr. Stone.
There are lapses in logic within this film that are worse than cheap 'Friday the 13th' films; things that no rational human being who values their safety/life would ever do. And this is inexcusable as this movie portends to be a serious and realistic tale. 'Lethal Weapon' is more plausible. So is 'The Dark Knight.'
'Savages' plays like a cheap, second-tier comic book of a film. Putrid and sad.
On a positive note, my friend and I had a pretty entertaining discussion on the way home from the theater discussing the colossal absurdity of what we had just sat through...I wish I could say 'this movie was so bad it's good.' Unfortunately it's just plain BAD. Very disappointing.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Oliver Stone has a reputation of excellent film making (Natural Born
Killers, Platoon), but what I saw in the movie theater last night was
easily one of the worst films I've ever seen in my entire life.
First the characters are two dimensional. The two male leads are introduced as basically "the tough guy" and the "sensitive guy". Their performances were mediocre at best. Taylor Klitsch was dry and brought nothing special to the role. The female lead "O" (Blake Lively) seems to have nothing particularly interesting about her, and her voice narrating makes the sound of a root canal suddenly more appetizing. Stone wants the audience to view these three characters as heroes, but I don't see it. The characters don't do anything significant they just grow weed, smoke weed, and have sex. Stone tries to get the audience on our side when he presents the benefits of marijuana but instead it comes across as 20-30 minutes of "legalize" propaganda followed by 10 minutes of renewable energy information.
Speaking of propaganda, the political and social themes in this movie are about as subtle as prison rape. It seems that instead of making a film about a group of people who live an alternative lifestyle, Stone has created a film about alternative lifestyles featuring some people. Blake Lively narrates a sort of montage of the marijuana industry, where all the minor characters are young, wealthy, and attractive, not to mention that marijuana is portrayed as a lifestyle, dare I say religion. Was this movie supposed to be realistic at some point? I don't know if I should have been eating popcorn in the theater or weaving a hemp bracelet.
AHHH but the trailer has guns! It features violence! Well... sort of.... just when you think the movie will redeem itself with some guns blazing action it simply doesn't deliver on this either. There are a few explosions that any high-schooler with an M-80 could pull off in their garage, some CGI blood, and the only good violent scene is so late in the movie that the audience doesn't react.
I don't understand where these millions of dollars went because they weren't in this movie, either Oliver Stone is a terrible film maker or an awesome crook. Terrible acting, terrible action, terrible script, absolutely TERRIBLE. Save yourself the aggravation and skip this movie. I haven't been this upset with cinema since Bill Murray did Garfield. I feel so strongly about this film that I will never spend my money on another Oliver Stone movie ever again.
Best friends Chon (Kitsch) and Ben (Johnson) are genius pot dealers in
Laguna. One of them is more of a "save the universe" type guy and holds
a degree in Business and Botany. Yes, pot heads in High Schools
everywhere just rejoiced "It's a real thing!" and the other one,
suffering from anger issues stemming from tours in Iraq takes care of
the "beating the crap out of people when necessary" aspect. Oh yeah,
they also share a girlfriend. (Awkward right?), her name is O (Lively).
No really it is I swear. Anyways, moving on because we have to, these
two guys have made some of the best pot known to man and have made
millions from it. (Still can't find their own girlfriend though, just
saying). Everything is going great as they take turns with their shared
girlfriend (still weird) in their huge beach house when the Mexican
drug cartel decides they want to be partners. This actually stands for
"We own you now and you know you like it." Ben and Chon don't really
feel like being De-decapitated so they decide to make a go of living in
a jungle somewhere until Elena (Hayeck) the ruthless lady leader of the
cartel has O kidnapped.
So are you over the fact that our two heroes share a girl yet? OK good, because I'm not either. This is one of those films that can only be enjoyed if you can let go of a few things. The whole film is narrated by O in her stoned and lazy version of her "OMG you guys I am so high right now" voice. She is a lot like her role in The Town only without the Boston accent. She is really annoying as a character and it's kind of hard to feel bad for her much less root for her. This is one of the things you have to let go of to enjoy the film. Ben and Chon worked well because they are the exact opposite to one another yet somehow have the respect for each-other to get along despite their constant different point of views. Kill everybody or run away. Ben was almost as annoying as O because he was always whining and psycho-analyzing everything. I found Chon to be my favorite of the three because he seemed to be the only one who just wanted to actually get things done and blow up some stuff while everyone else talked and talked some more.
Villains make films though and despite the awkwardness and UN-likability of some of the lead roles the bad guys were sinister, relentless and kind of funny at times. One interaction between Elena's ruthless right hand man Lado (Del Toro) and out for himself FBI agent Dennis (Travolta) in particular was tense and humorous at the same time. Travolta was surprisingly great in this film as he looked like his old self and I was pleased to see he had a larger part in the film than anticipated. Elena had a well written back story as well as the bad guys, while certainly crude enough to hate were interesting enough to steal the flick.
Savages UN-intentionally gives us no-one to root for and may even get on your nerves for a moment or two with its anything goes mentality. There is no doubt however, that it has some great action sequences, well written dialog (minus a few horrendous lines by O's character), strong acting by a strong cast and is an all-around well-made film all the way up until it's absolutely dreadful crash and burn of an ending. I won't give anything away here but let's just say this ending is a problem. It felt as though the Director had a decent ending for a good film but wanted some attention so badly that he was willing to ruin his own movie to do so. You don't always have to be edgy and cute. Sometimes playing things straight up is what's best.
It was OK enough---it was definitely well directed--but the film
would've benefited a lot from three better actors in the central roles.
Don't get me wrong--its not that Taylor Kitch or Aaron Johnson aren't
decent enough--both play their roles with exactly the same kind of
stiffness that i guess suit their characters' circumstance but neither
really add anything beyond what the screenplay has already provided
them.. like if this were made say 10-15 years ago and you'd of had
Steve Zhan and Ben Affleck in it i'm not saying it would've been batter
but the two of them would've made you care for what might happen to the
main characters a bit more i feel like. I'd rather not get into the
lack of any kind of convincing emoting from Blake Lively here--- (She's
supposed to be afraid for her life here--and somehow its like she's
barely miffed---its as if instead of her life that's being threatened
its her wi-fi connection.) having read the book this was based on--the
character O in the story was a lot more resourceful and a lot more
crazy then Blake Lively ever suggests in the two hours of running
time---would that they had cast literally anybody else in her part,just
off the top of my head would Lauren Ambrose from six feet under have
been considered too old??? would Krysten Ritter??? would Kirsten Bell??
hell Alexis Bidel might of been able to pull this off better (and as
much as i love Rory Gilmore emoting was never exactly her strong suit)
at least Blake Lively's narrating was OK...i just really wish they
could've found someone who could have really put this movie over the
top here. God again if this was made like 10-15 years ago--imagine what
a younger Juliette Lewis or a younger Illeana Douglas could've done
That's really all i actually wanted to say cause everything else was fine enough--i was kind of expecting it to be more over the top if anything given that its Oliver St one's first crime film in a little while but its definitely over the top enough to satisfy anyone looking for an over the top crime movie. Its good enough that it overcomes the somewhat major obstacles in its path to keep you watching and keep you entertained but again with a little different casting--this could of been first rate.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It's hard to find a decent movie lately. Was another disappointment for
me, no surprise there.Don't be fooled by the cast. Sex, violent, a
little action is enough(!) for some apparently (judging by the high
votes). Not for me though...
The outcome of the movie in summary; -You can have a good life with drug business (with that great education background), get away with it and have a happy ending! -Sharing is caring even If its your -so much in love- girlfriend! -You can have two guys and a sweet life, if you are a sexy pretty dumb blonde with issues; you don't even have to work! -Running a cartel is easier than dealing with your daughter!
You may also categorize this movie in 'fiction' genre, with that very happy threesome. Seriously? A girl and 2 guys. Does it exist?? My vote is Benicio only (ok, a little for Travolta and Hayek). Have to admit I also enjoyed gorgeous Kitsch's topless scenes.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Oliver Stone...you sir, have lost your touch. After making such
brilliant films as JFK, Platoon and Natural Born Killers, you have
lowered yourself to the likes of Wall Street 2 and this heaping pile of
dog manure, Savages.
The star of the movie, Blake Lively, essentially plays a spoiled whore. Hard to root for that type of person. She is paired up with 2 rich entrepreneurs. Now, I know there are different relationships on this planet, but I find it a bit hard to believe that 2 young, attractive, in-shape rich guys would end up sharing a girlfriend like that...it just didn't feel possible. Atrocious writing. Then, in a line that rivals "Oh my Godddd" from Troll 2 and "He's the Lawrence of my labia" from Sex and the City 2, Lively spouts, when speaking of screwing the war veteran, "I have orgasms. He has wargasms." Grrrrr! How f-ing stupid is that f-ing line?!?! It pisses me off to be honest with you. Wargasms? Come on. Just bad writing.
The voice-over from Lively as well...terrible. It truly sounded like an audition tape from one of those online broadcasting colleges. And Emile Hirsch...what was he doing in this movie? His part should have been played by a talented extra. He was completely wasted, a "nothing" role. Hirsch personally must have had a few difficult days driving into work during filming, wondering where his career was heading.
And how in the world, Stone, are you going to start a movie off with the voice-over of Lively saying something to the effect of "just because I'm talking at the start doesn't mean I'm alive at the end"...just for her to end up being friggin alive at the end?! WTF?! But I could excuse all these things...all of them...if the movie wasn't such a BORE! Stone should be having fun with this movie, ala Natural Born Killers, instead he made a cheap, lazy, boring movie with a terrible ending that ended up costing me $5 and two hours of my life. Oliver Stone, you sir, can supple upon my ball sack!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In Mr. Stone's "Platoon," brutal, direct Barnes and mellow, intelligent
Elias battle for Charlie Sheen's mortal soul. Whether familiar or pet,
Mr. Stone plumbs the theme again in "Savages." Unfortunately "Savages"
glides into a land far, far away from "Platoon."
The predominate feeling from "Savages" is it was about a Hollywood deal. Mr. Stone not only phoned in a (co-telephoned) script but the direction as well. His renowned editorial and textural format tricks fail to enhance the storytelling as in "Natural Born Killers." Here, they are plugged in to assuage any fears "Savages" might not be a Stone film. Casting adds to the feel-of-the-deal. Bluntly, Ms. Lively would never exit a paper bag were she to depend upon her acting to do so. Kitsch and Johnson are directly behind her. Mr. Travolta chews the scenery like he's in a high school production supporting role. Ms Hayek, at least, turns in a good performance.
Given the 24 Hour news cycle's coverage of the Mexican-American drug war, it's difficult to dramatize an inherently insane subject. Little effort is needed to find chilling video of men hanging upside down like a side of beef being castrated with a dull knife. The corruption greasing the drug distribution wheels as they travel to El Norte is also common knowledge. That leaves the need for a personal story about these purveyors, or at least a new slant (save a female Cartel leader). All that is missing in the pulpy and broad "Savages."
On the Pulp: early on it's clear the typically amazing Mr. Del Toro's performance is derived from Silent's mustachioed villains. Later he actually twirls his mustache. At this point there was an expectation, "Nyah-Ha-Ha," would pass his lips.
The "Savages" cast and Mr. Stone recently sat for an interview on PBS' "Charlie Rose." The usually garrulous Mr Stone said nary a word about this story, which, in case you're interested, goes something like this: a female-led Cartel, losing money, sets out to swallow smaller players, including one growing 'Primo'. The business is high-tech and run by two high school buddies: a tough physically and emotionally scarred Ex-SEAL (Barnes) who served in the Middle East and a granola-eating college boy (Dual Major - Botany and Business) who wants to save the world (Elias). The woman they share is kidnapped when Butch and Sundance (Ms. Lively actually refers to them as such, paints herself as Etta Place and doesn't want to be around when they die) insult the Cartel Queen. Ms. Lively differentiates them as "one likes to f@&k, the other makes love." And the Ex-SEAL has 'wargasms'????
Guess the story's path and how many bodies fall.
In a punk opening scene, Ms. Lively's voice-over drives a flashback and leaves open her fate by story's end. This sets up an insulting, gimmicky twist ending that's also punk and not to be spoiled. Throw your own Milk Duds at the screen.
Among too few, "Savages" saving grace is the Political subtext the left-leaning, axe-grinding Mr. Stone loves to incorporate. Anywhere along in "Savages" merely substitute the words Afghanistan or Iraq for Mexico. Here, however, Mr. Stone's political restraint works against "Savages."
The other small savior of this disappointing film is the universally held belief others are savages. A brutal killer, a Mexican, believes the Americans are savages because they share a woman. The Americans believe the Mexicans are savages because they decapitate people just because it's Tuesday. A closer look at the great cultural differences separated by a common border is also AWOL.
Action fans may get their fix from "Savages." There is sick brutality, double-dealing and lots of bang bang. There just isn't enough glue in between to hold it together or give it some meaning. And that's the fault of the usually spot-on-relevant Mr. Stone.
Don't spend your bread. This dog will be on Netflix by September.
In reading some of the very negative reviews posted here, I sensed that
some of those writers were more interested In Oliver Stone then the
actual contents of the movie. I am not such a great fan of Oliver Stone
and thought Wall Street 2 was not well done. Savages, on the other
hand, was quite close to the book, gritty, and well done. If you have a
problem with the portrayal of Seals or the realism of the scenarios
then lay the blame on the book not Mr. Stone. Some of the scenes were
certainly quite gory, an increasingly common occurrence in many films
these days. So if that turns you off then don't watch the movie. On the
other hand if you want to see a good thriller that will keep you
entertained and are comfortable with the topic area, drug dealing and
violence, then by all means see this movie and do not be put off by the
any bad reviews.
As for the ending, it was changed from the book and I think for the better. That's my personal opinion and I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, despite my dislike for Mr. Stone.
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