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What would happen when and if the drug cartel violence makes it to
America? Ben and Chon join forces to create the most intoxicating
marihuana. Ben is a botanist and MBA, Chon an army guy who brought back
the best marihuana seeds from Afghanistan. They become hugely
successful. Ben likes to conduct the business in peace, but when not
possible, Chon steps in. Both are involved in a love triangle with O.
All this happens on the mean streets of...Laguna Beach.
One day they get a video of Mexican chainsaw beheadings and and invitation to a meeting. They attend and are told that a powerful Mexican cartel is going to take them over basically because they need their expertise. The guys have 24 hours to think about it and are naive enough to think they can negotiate with the cartel. Chon, ever the angry guy insults the big boss.
The big boss, Elena, not used to being challenged is offended by their behavior and decides to force their hand by kidnapping O. Ben and Chon have a corrupt DEA agent on their payroll who tells them that they can't say no to a cartel. The cartel is like Walmart, and you don't try to compete with Walmart. He also tells them that the cartel faces some serious competition from another cartel and also has to deal with the issue of legalization in the US.
We learn more about Elena. She inherited the business once her husband was killed. Her two sons are also dead and she has a daughter living the good life in California who doesn't want anything to do with her. Elena lives a very lonely life watching TV. The kidnapped O ends up befriending her, playing the role of her daughter of sorts. Elena decides to travel in secret to California to meet her daughter and she bring O along.
Ben and Chon decide they won't make it easy on Elena. They attack one of Elena's safehouses and steal money and get from the DEA guy the file on Elena and her people. They set up one of her guys to appear like a rat. Elena has Ben execute the guy. But her right hand man, Lado, isn't convinced by the whole charade, he wants to go after the guys. When they discover that Elena has a daughter in the US, they take a page from Elena's playbook and kidnap the girl to exchange her for O.
Savages is he most intellectually stimulating Hollywood movie I've seen in years. The script is quite brilliant. While casting is a bit odd, acting is strong overall. Travolta doesn't really look or sound the part and while the role of the not-so-bright blonde is well suited for Lively, she herself has something that just isn't likable. Odd is also the casting of Del Toro as a vicious Chicano enforcer, but as expected he nails it and shines in the role- despite the weird haircut. Because you do care about the story and the characters you end up looking for all the flaws you can find in this movie. Starting with the unlikely completely drama-free love triangle among young people. I understand it was necessary so that both Ben and Chon put all their energy on this mission to rescue O, at the same time this could have been solved more easily by making her the ex of both or the sister of one of them or something like that. It was also necessary so that O can say some truthful things about human nature. She needs Ben to fulfill her romantic needs and Chon to fulfill her more animalistic needs. Ben is one of those dopeheads who's a fan of Eastern thought, peace, and Buddha, he's idealistic and does philanthropic work in Indonesia. Chon doesn't look like a dope-head but is all action and violence. It' not clear why these two would be such close friends.
The other issue is the whole idea of a violent drug cartel that specializes in...weed. As far as I know, it's the business of hard drugs that fuels violence in Mexico, not weed. Otherwise, things are portrayed fairly realistically.
On to the good aspects of Savages. The word "savages" comes up in the movie in the three different contexts. The first when it is used by Americans against chainsaw-wielding violent Mexicans. Not much more needs to be said. The second time it's used by Mexicans to refer to rich Americans and their sex lives. Lado and Elena are trying to figure out just who O is involved with and can't conceive that she's with both of them. Also a mystery to the Mexicans is how Americans don't have a concept of normal family life. I use "normal" on purpose because it unnerves the relativistic liberal/academic crowd that argues that all lifestyles are equally good. O doesn't know her dad, her mom has been married/divorced multiple times and lives by herself in a giant mansion. A perfect symbol- the giant mansion impeccable on the outside, messy on the inside, and empty. Despite ideal conditions- huge wealth, Americans can't make it work. Elena is amazed by O's empty head. O lives by Americans' favorite and perhaps only guiding principle- seize the day. She wonders if O has ever given serious thought about her own future, about the day after today. "Savages" is used a third time near the end to refer to some idealistic and plain life in paradise. And so the script has smart and thoughtful things to say about all these topics and presents a rich story and a couple of surprises. Just because it makes you think plenty, I'm willing to forgive all the flaws- major and minor ones. On the surface it appears to be just another Scorsese-type rise-and-fall of likable bad guys movie, but this one backs up this ordinary idea with a very astute script.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Ben (Aaron Taylor-Johnson of the "Kick Ass" movies) and Chon (Taylor Kitsch of "John Carter") are two marijuana dealers in sunny Laguna Beach, California, who grow the best pot in the world. Ben is a botanist, and Chon is a former U.S. soldier. These two friends live together and share the same girlfriend, Ophelia (Blake Lively of "Green Lantern"),without any drama. They have the world by the tits until the Mexican Cartel decides to make them an offer that they cannot refuse. Our amoral anti-heroes received a blood-soaked video with images of decapitated heads and a business meeting to discuss their future. Ben is willing to talk, but Chon wants to terminate the Mexicans with extreme prejudice. Meantime, stone-cold tough guy Lado (Benicio Del Toro of "License to Kill")serves Elana (Salma Hayek of "Desperado") who runs the business that her husband operated until he was killed. When our heroes prove obstinate, Elana kidnaps O to ramp up the negotiations with Ben and Chon. Eventually, Ben and Chon take the war to the enemy and screw around with Elana. They go one step farther and persuade their favorite DEA agent Dennis (John Travolta of "Pulp Fiction") to accommodate them with top-secret, hush-hush, information about Elana. While all of this is unfolding, O--who has been abducted by Lado--gets to meet Elana, and they become friends. It turns out that Elana has an estranged daughter, Madga (Sandra Echeverría of "Casa de mi Padre) living in Southern California, and our heroes kidnap her and turn the tables on Elana. Lado shows up at Dennis' house and they discuss the situation and Dennis survives. Lado utilizes a lawn cutting business as a way of getting his armed and deadly Mexicans into any house and raising havoc. The really cool thing about "Savages" is that it is narrated by 0, but she points out that just because she is telling us everything that she isn't dead herself. Oliver Stone is an above-average director with attitude and he makes "Savages" an engaging film to watch, right up to its double-ending that may blow your mind. Don Winslow's novel is pretty gripping material, but scenarist Shane Solerno and Stone have taken liberties with it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Upon seeing the basic descriptions of this film I thought the concept of 1 girl and 2 guys didn't sound realistic especially when they were drug dealers... However, I made the choice to watch it anyway because of the director. I was expecting something gritty and enthralling despite the flaws in the relationship between the 3 leads but the basic plot lines never managed to push the film into or anywhere near the realms of realism or grit. The whole thing was just so unbelievable that the main entertainment came from seeing the boundaries of non realistic movie making pushed to its limit. I felt badly let down by a poor story and this film completely failed to live up to my expectations considering the stature of the director.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
What a ride!
I personally could care less if this bombed at the Box Office.
I could care less if people did not enjoy Blake Lively and her voice- overs.
I do not care if people found John Tavolta to be over the top. He always has been in my book. Pehlam 123...Face Off...Grease...Pulp Fiction...Paris with Love, that is just who he is and I love it.
Some do not like Oliver Stone or all the sex in this film, some wont like (SPOILERS) the fake ending. Very M Night in that sense.
But lets talk about what I did like.
The Action was fun. I liked the movie how sexy it was, Blake was hot. I like B Del Torro, he was such a sadistic actor here and I liked how he originally did not die some horrible death like we were all lead to believe.
Taylor Kitcsh (Spelling...not sure if that is how you spell his last name) is not only from my city of Kelowna, BC Canada but he is from the ghetto neighborhood RUTLAND and he said this on a talk show so I have respect for him.
I did find the love triangle between him, Ben and Blake a little strange but it was original, and it was what it was.
A girl I know read the book and said it was slightly different from the film but hey I enjoyed the film and it is actually one of my favourite films of all 2012.
I find people love it or hate it. Either way it is an enjoyable ride. Even Emile Hirsch in his small role is very funny.
I suggest you all check it out.
8 out of 10.
"Just because I'm telling this story doesn't mean I'm alive at the
end", this is Ophelia aka 'O' narrating. The opening line resonates
with the same intriguing intensity than Henry Hill's "I've always
wanted to be a gangster", warning us at the same time not to try to
outsmart what seems to be a formulaic plot, it might outsmart us as
well, which it ultimately does, to our greatest delight.
'O' is a young, tall and beautiful blonde whose sensual body, much more her heart, belongs to two men: Ben (Aaron Johnson) and Chon (Taylor Kitsch). From her laconic, almost soulless delivery, we perceive the effects of an emotionally devastating and (maybe) deadly journey. We understand that "the kind of story" she refers to is something quite unusual starting with that peculiar threesome.
Chon is a former Navy SEAL who smuggled the seeds of cannabis from its best (and most dangerous) source ever: Afghanistan, Ben is a Berkeley graduate and an accomplished botanist. Together, they grew the best marijuana in the world, earning them a fast ascension and a large customer base. I mentioned "Goodfellas", but the film owes a lot to other semi- documentary crime biopics such as "Casino" or "City of God" and even to "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" in a less humorous way. "Savages" opens with a success story that can be extrapolated to any business, the key being the complementarity between Ben and Chon, doer and thinker, and quality: the THC ratio of 33% against 3 or 5 from the competitors, was the best guarantee for success.
And naturally, their lifestyle is the perfect American Dream's reflection: money, a house in a postcard paradise, and the seemingly trophy girl 'O' who loves both, not as two separate guys but as one person, Chon is the body, and Ben the spirit. It's implied later that Ben and Chon only accept to share her because they also love each other. But rather than unveiling the eventuality of a conflict, it confirms the solidity of the triangular love; they're all part of a same couple. It might sound too idealistic, romantic, or pervert, but it's crucial to the plot, because when 'O' is kidnapped, it justifies Ben and Chon's efforts to save her, she's the seal of their friendship, they certainly would have abandoned her to save their assess, if she was a trophy girl.
Blake Lively delivers a fine performance as 'O', a beautiful yet vulnerable flower that can only bloom under this shining love. We quickly forget about the sex scenes, the superficial shopping and start looking at her with more concerned eyes. I was more puzzled by the casting of the two male leads, but it might be the film's strike of genius. These unknown and fresh-looking faces, not only highlight Oliver Stone's defiance from the usual all-star cast trends (no Jason Statham as Chon or Ryan Gosling as Ben), but they underline the third key of their success: secrecy, they're the guys who avoid any kind of trouble. Chon uses his military skills every once in a while to discourage the cheaters, and Ben uses his head to provide the services of an expert to do all the money-laundry.
Ben and Chon are like two crime-geeks who learned all the tricks from movies and the anonymity of their faces makes the supporting cast even more efficient. As soon as we see Salma Hayek, Benicio Del Toro, Demian Bashir and John Travolta entering the screen, we know troubles have begun and our rookies will make their bones by confronting more 'usual' faces. Indeed, one thing they didn't see coming is that the competitive advantage of their start-up would become its main threat. When you grow the best pot in the world, you're likely to attract the most powerful cartel from Mexico, lead by a drug Queen Elena Sanchez, Salma Hayek in a femme fatale role (almost Oscar- worthy considering how distant she is from her habitual characters).
And Del Toro, as always, doesn't need much to electrify the screen, he was born to play psychopathic characters, providing the perfect dose of humor the movie needed to compensate the romantic undertones. Ben and Chon receive a video link by e-mail from the Cartel: Del Toro decapitates a former gang that refused to cooperate, a serious warning: these guys mean business. The two 'gringos' are given a fair offer from Alex, Bashir as one of Elena's lieutenants, and just like in "The Godfather", it's a 'no' that opens the Pandora box and push the Cartel to kidnap 'O' and blackmail her lovers. This is where the film really takes off and becomes an exhilarating thriller involving Ben, Chon, the Cartel and the obligatory corrupt DEA played by a scene-stealing John Travolta.
"Savages" turn into a thrilling chess game between criminals, trying to have the upper hand on the negotiations and find the enemy's weakest spot. Hayek who spied on Ben and Chon, understood that she would 'pull the strings' if she got 'O', but her tactic could become a double-edged sword as something precious could be used to blackmail her as well, 'something' that might explain why she's being so motherly toward 'O'. To a certain point, the film turns into a sort of Guy Ritchie plot where it's all about who's going to anticipate the enemy's move and win the duel, inviting the seemingly clean protagonists to question their own morality. See, I mentioned many gangster films in this review, because Oliver Stone borrows the best ingredients of the genre yet never recycle clichéd situations, he avoids such tricks as bloody shootouts or worse, a climactic Mexican stand-off.
"Savages" remains original and entertaining from the mysterious beginning to its mind- blowing ending, and more than any other film, it's deeply rooted in our era with all its use of technology: Skype calls, clips, hacking, Internet. "Savages" might be THE gangster film of the 2010's.
This story of loyalty and violence is elevated by great performances
Taylor Kitsch, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and Blake Lively are utterly believable as a trio of lovers whose lives lead them into danger and whose dedication to each other lead them out of it. They're love is evident, and so simple as to not be even worthy of any small-minded titilation. Together, they sell weed. Great weed...powerful, magical weed, and have built their own close-knit organization of free-thinking experts, including a security branch of ex-soldiers. Business is booming.
Enter the Baha Cartel, represented by the polished and lethal agent played wonderfully by Demian Bichir, cultured on the surface, but lethal beneath. The cartel is outlined simply - a modern criminal organization with plenty of complexity and diversity, but with competitors of its own and a very violent, dangerous, culture. They want new territory.
The cartel's bloody work is carried out by Lado (embodied by Benicio Del Toro) a down-to-earth cold-blooded enforcer - a flat-out sociopath, really. Del Toro easily steals every scene he's in...
...Except for those with Salma Hayek, who really shines as Elena, the no-nonsense, feared, head of the cartel. I'd like to just emphasize that this is some of Hayek's best work, by far - she really nails the complexity of a woman who, through fate and choice, is leading an ultra-violent criminal gang - with an iron f--king fist in fact - but who is still human, with pain and fears of her own.
In the end, the tale is about these men and women and how they each protect what they care about most, which is usually each other. The actors really seem to bond, which lends a lot of investment to get us through a fairly wild and crazy plot.
Add in some artistic (but not too pretentious) camera work and editing, good pacing, and some really great technical touches, and you have a solid crime drama with a lot of heart and soul. This film really should be rated higher in my opinion.
Not easy to find such a brilliantly directed film, with an original approach to the subject of cliché. It is simply hard to believe that the Hijacking may have something that goes beyond the deja-vu effect. The story brings a lot of profound dialogs between good and bad characters, as an equally balanced lucidity between followers of Budha and Lucifer. As expected, Benicio del Toro is shining as negative, Salm Hayek and John Travolta are average good. But Oliver Stone decided to put three less developed actors in main roles, and this made the movie magnificent! They blended into characters abslolutely perfect, giving the film modern and feel of freshness, and three starrs gave it strength and seriousness. Playing easy with emotions of a viewer is constant, from early beginning to very end, actually both ends, as movie has two. Blake Lively successfully plays a role of coldest heart melter, and Taylor Kitsch and Aaron Taylor- Johnson finally played really deep roles. Fabulous story of love and determination. Don't miss it, never mind low mark here ;)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is a fantastic film.
The actors are all great the story is great and there is lots of action
basically two cool drug dealers with their girl get messed up with a big drug gang in a deal
The result their girl gets kidnapped so they have to do exactly what the dealer says
it gets gruesome, but then the stakes are raised, the bad dealer wants 13 million for the girl 'o', one of the two cool drug dealers is an experienced soldier who has friends they then do a raid to get some millions to raise money to get the girl free as they are trying to pay a ransome however they do over the dealer they have to pay, lol
It gets really interesting and is a very well directed movie.
John Travolta is great as dennis
Some good twists at the end make this film very enjoyable
And it was a happy ending after a roller coaster of a ride, very satisfying when you work it all out.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is my first review for IMDb. I felt after seeing this film it was
necessary. (spoilers below!)
After seeing the trailer for this movie I was expecting a thrilling (even if somewhat far-fetched) action story, which is what I got - mostly. The movie is incredibly well made, some beautiful editing and cinematography, and the styling is impeccable. I was thoroughly enjoying some of the performances in the movie too, particularly Salma Hayek and Benicio Del Toro playing excellent villains. I even enjoyed John Travolta's role as the kind of anti-hero cop, looking after number one. But, and as I've read from many reviews on here, I had no strong empathy with O, Blake Lively's character. I felt she was a little underdeveloped as a character and I couldn't grasp what made her so special in order for the two protagonists to be willing to share her, or fight so hard to get her back. Taylor Kitsch was good enough to be entertaining, his character was a little better than O but not by much. On the other hand, Aaron Johnson was the only one of the three main characters I genuinely felt I cared about whilst watching the movie. He is clearly the most talented of the three, no disrespect to the others of course, but I definitely felt his role was the strongest.
But the acting on the whole was acceptable, and that isn't my problem with this movie. I'm sure there are several people reading that will agree, that the problem with this movie is the ending.
In my opinion (and apparently a lot of other people's opinion) this movie should have ended ten minutes earlier than it did. While I was watching this movie in the cinema, just after O's 'imagined ending' where the camera pans out to see the three protagonists lying next to the jeep, two customers sitting near me got up and left the screen. I guess they assumed it was the end. And my my, I wish I had done the same. At first I wondered where these customers were going, "you're missing the end", I thought. These customers were apparently very clever, because I felt that point would have been a perfect ending to this film, suitably shocking and sad. The three are are all together just like they wanted, but in a tragic way. Having everything wrapped up in a happy neat little package, with the bad guy (or girl in this case) in prison and everyone else conveniently living perfect lives just didn't make any sense to me. Especially Dennis' glorious end, honestly. I felt genuine disappointment at this point, as I had been enjoying the film so much.
Despite this, I still really want you to see this movie. Don't be put off. It is after all a really enjoyable movie, with some great acting from unexpected characters and fantastic direction. Just leave the cinema ten minutes before the end.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Always interested in whatever Oliver Stone does, always different, always risk taking. It may seem difficult to the common person to understand the dealings of the drug world, personally, I'm not sure how 'pot' is grown and distributed throughout the world, but that's not important to me when watching this movie. It's a movie, and in this, boundaries are set, and I believe that in this movie world, the story fits well. Of course, if someone has a problem with a woman being with two different men or two guys selling drugs to make a living, then they may reject the movie for personal or moral reasons. However, when I view a movie, I try to enter its world of probability or belief. With that said, I truly enjoyed the movie. It did its job in laying the tracks and the players that were there for the ride. Thought Travolta was spot on with his performance along with Benecio Del Toro, along with the rest of the cast. There was no weak link as far as I could see. Had to laugh at the alternate ending sequence, truly caught me off guard. As always, Oliver Stone delivers.
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