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|Index||275 reviews in total|
There is an unwritten rule floating around Moviedom, for anything but a
Chic Flick never use a female for voice over narration. It's hard to
quantify but it just does not work. Anyway, aside from that irritant,
this is the usual visually stunning, take it or leave it style from one
of our maverick Directors. He is loved and hated in tandem. Oliver
Stone is a daring filmmaker that pushes boundaries and barrages the
senses so, like it or not, it makes you pay attention.
This can work to advantage, and not. Because if you pay too much attention to his playful, violent vision it can be distracting trying to get meaning out of meaninglessness. This is a romp. Nothing more than a highly stylized post-modern palette of ultra-violence, sex, drugs, and hipster music.
This was made before the 2012 election and that makes the DEA agent's remark, "it's only a matter of time before its legal, so take the money and run", stand out and although not exactly a profound statement, it is like the rest of this, nothing more than "attractive" action and "fun" escapism for those in the groove.
8/10 for me. Sure, it has it's holes but it's a breathtaking ride if
you don't try to analyse it too much. I really liked the acting - yes,
the leads were a little less than perfect and easily eclipsed by
Travolta and Del Toro (but then they would be). Del Toro is perfectly
Enjoy it for what it is. Trust me you will be really rooting for the good guys (who might be the bad guys??)and pleased that they thought of a way to succeed.
I liked it and i would recommend it. It had just the right twists and turns to make it It's no art house or French nu wave but it's a solid film, just right for Friday. Enjoy
If i had just one negative it comes at the end, i Won't give it away but i have seen this technique used on a few films now and i just think why? why? why? It adds no value... :(
This movie renews the energy of depleted themes drug related violence, drug wealth, California dreaming and Mexican cartel. The violence is graphic and the style are often mannered but this long and dense adventure takes surprising trips into thoughtfulness, ruefulness and romance as well. While the savagery of "Savages" emanates firstly from the cartel, the story tracks the increasingly desperate measures that the lead actors take to secure the safety of the woman they both adore, and to take a sweet revenge. "Savages " is a bit too long in terms of runtime, which is not a surprise in Oliver Stone's productions.
This is a sick film. "Sick" as in violently cool. Unfortunately, the 3 lead actors were the worst, all it seems were selected on basis of eye candy and nothing else. Travolta and Del Toro carry this movie by far. Especially Del Toro, I'm amazed with this guy. Anything he touches turns to gold. Every scene he is in he completely dominates. Small mannerisms such as playing with his moustache, his daring eyes, surprising actions and general attitude are not to be missed. His conversation with Travolta towards the end is to die for. It reminded me of classical Pulp Fiction dialogue. Del Toro is absolutely sick in this film and his violent and gruesome character portrayal makes this flick very enjoyable.
Savages, the first of my double bill tonight, is Oliver Stone's
nineteenth feature as director in a career that has so far won him
three Oscars and a fair share of both critical acclaim (Platoon) and
vitriolic vituperation (Alexander). It's impossible to know which Stone
will be on duty with each release until you hand over paper and take
your seat. Savages won't trouble the Academy in February but this is
Stone fairly close to the top of his game.
Ben (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Chon (Taylor Kitsch) contrast each other in almost every way emotionally and in their approach to life but they are best friends, business partners and share their lives, their home and their girl, O (Blake Lively). Their business is drugs but not in the seedy, council flat, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels kind of way but in the scientific, multi-million, California kind of way. Life is fun, cash is plentiful and there's even Dennis (John Travolta), a bent DEA agent, vaguely on their side to ensure everything runs smoothly. Then the Mexican Baja Cartel, headed by Elena (Salma Hayek) and her bulldog, Lado (Benicio Del Toro) decide they want a slice of the pie and kidnap O as gentle persuasion.
Savages doesn't have anything new or profound to say about drug smuggling or the multitudinous crimes tied up in the drag trade and there's no great political slant or revelation, which is disappointing after such bold statements from Stone in the likes of JFK and Nixon. But it is a ripping good yarn and there are times when it's just blisteringly fine entertainment. It looks beautiful. The frames are saturated with rich colours and the cinematography is to be celebrated. Each shot is sculpted, each movement feels effortless choreographed.
Stone has paid huge attention to the incidentals, the minutiae. For such a harsh, brash film there is some wonderful subtly in the periphery of the frame and the seemingly disposable dialogue has barbs that tear. Everything is planned & executed explicitly so that there is occasionally too much to absorb, which can be a relief in a film that is so brutal.
The brutality of Savages is numbing from the outset; the opening scene is shocking and horrific despite not being depicted fully for us to endure. This is a violent film in tone far more than in act but don't fool yourself that Savages will be easy on the eyes. It isn't. This is no place for sensitivity and sensitivity is, in fact, murdered in cold blood. Just one more blood splatter in an ocean of claret.
The opening voice-over jars initially but is quickly forgiven because Stone, who also co-scripts, takes his time telling the story. Nothing is rushed; time is taken to explain fully. It's not that he thinks we can't keep up, it's that he's determined we should completely understand everything he wants to show and tell. And while he takes over two hours to spill his beans, it's worth investing in every second to enjoy his tale. So, it's a linear affair with few twists or subplots? It's still an accessible, engaging film that is difficult to shake off after the affair.
Much of Savages' success is in the casting and performance. Stone has shied away from huge, bankable movie stars that have carried so many of his films, instead favouring recognizable actors who play second-fiddle to the characters. Of the principal three, Taylor-Johnson has earned plaudits in the likes of Nowhere Boy and Kick-Ass and is on his way to stardom; Lively, though he provided solid support in The Town, is better known as the small-screen star of Gossip Girl; and Kitsch is just trying to get by after two of this year's biggest turkeys, John Carter and Battleship.
Each if them is watchable, delivering performances that are as entertaining and moving as they are believable, while Hayek chews scenery as a woman you may fantasize about but has serious black widow tendencies. You'd no more mess with her than you would cross Uzis, with Del Toro's Lado, a thug who craves greater acts of sadism and louder screams of agony with every bout of torture he inflicts.
Whenever Travolta turns up in a decent film, I can't help feeling he's been thrown a bone by a sympathetic director (look what Tarantino did for him with Pulp Fiction or Terrence Malick with The Thin Red Line) but will inevitably spit it out and go after a foetid rat. With each career rejuvenation he seems to jump straight back into another Battlefield Earth or Michael. Very much a supporting actor here, he's adequate rather then excellent but proves again he's worthy of so much more than another Swordfish.
There is an art to compiling a film soundtrack and too often we're blasted with something deeply inappropriate because a record company requires a hit anyone remember the shocking inclusion of I Love It When You Call in rom-com Good Luck Chuck where the second line, but you never call at all, was cut? Fortunately there are no such travesties in Savages' soundtrack, which is dressed with some fabulous covers including Bruce Lash's take on Psycho Killer and Yuna's Here Comes the Sun.
When I asked a member of Cineworld staff if he'd seen Savages yet, he responded "I haven't seen anything since Ted. I only like comedies." If you take a similar view, steer clear of Savages; it is most certainly not for you. But if you're looking for something that requires more thought than the second film of my double-bill, Dredd, and has more to it than noise, guns, blood and smashed heads, Oliver Stone might have provided an option.
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Has it been 12 years since "Traffic"? Benicio Del Toro as Javier, wow what a performance (you felt his pain and compassion in every scene). Savages with Benecio Del Toro as Lado, wow what a performance (you totally feel his psychotic nature and total lack of compassion in every scene). He has aged into the part of Lado, and, I must say, I was taken aback when he first appeared on screen....he was so menacing, psychopathic, schizophrenic that he totally freaked me out. I cannot remember a more mesmerizing performance. He has moved up my list of top male actors. If he does not win the Oscar for this role I will be extremely disappointed. The rest of the movie.....
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I enjoyed this immensely. In fact, I thought it was freaking awesome
and it is probably my favorite film of 2012. Oliver Stone is back on
point with this, and the cast did a stellar job- sans Travolta- Jesus
Christ, that guy is a hack! My favorite performance was Salma Hayek.
She looked like she was having a lot of fun with the role and I thought
it was a cool twist to have a female crime boss. Del Toro obviously was
excellent as well, and while the three leads didn't quite stack up to
the Latin bombshell duo of Hayek/Del Toro, they held their own. Some of
the dialogue was a bit unnatural at times (i.e. random conversations
about Buddha) but I'll let it slide. This was gritty, the 130 minute
running time flew by, and I wasn't bored for a second. I know the
ending sparked some controversy but I found it to be pretty damn
clever. Although the first ending was poetic, Shakespearean, romantic
and (although depressing) a real crowd pleaser, it just doesn't always
work out that way. Sometimes these people do get busted. So I did enjoy
that twist, although it could have been executed better. And maybe I
interpreted the ending wrong, but I found the hint of gay subtext to be
another interesting spin on the genre, though it was a very
underdeveloped plot point between the two characters that could have
been explored a little further.
After a long time I thoroughly enjoyed Oliver Stone's directed movie Savages (enjoyed natural born killers,Born on the 4th , walls street). The movie Savages centers around two best friends Ben ( Aaron Johnson : Albert Nobbs)and Chon (sounds like John (taylor Kitsch)) with different personalities. Aaron, a Botany major, polite, nice,likes peace and does things legally. Chon, on the other hand, back from Iraq with lots of emotions locked in, stoic, ready to kill. Both Ben and Chon start marijuana business in CA and Ben does everything to keep weed operation clean with the help of Dennis (John Travolta),DEA agent. Both Ben and Chon enjoy a beautiful relationship with the beautiful O (Blake Lively). All 3 have a very healthy togetherness. Now the Mexicans want to work with Ben and Chon and want to use their techniques of growing best pot. Ben and Chon are reluctant to join hands with Mexicans and O is kidnapped by Mexicans headed by Elena (Salma Hayek) and her employee Lado ( Benicio Del Toro : Traffic). To release O from their clutches, Ben and Chon have to deliver 300 pounds of marijuana. One of my favorite scenes is when Ben is driving the car packed with pot and Chon is front seat passenger. There is a state trooper and Ben hopes they don't get stopped for speeding. Chon , on the other hand, stays cool and tells Ben that it was going to be OK because he has his gun ready to kill the cop. Differences in their personalities are shown very well. Ben prays , not for his life, not for Chon but for the state trooper. Because Ben knows Chon very well. Chon is action man. Chon takes care of Ben . Chon defends Ben and both Ben and Chon are on a mission to save O. Aaron Johnson as Ben is terrific and Taylor Kitsch as Chon is excellent. And just like O says, both Ben and Chon are great and make the movie terrific. Blake Lively is lovely. Benicio Del Toro as cruel Lado is very good. Salma Hayek is her usual self. John Travolta is very likable as always. Oliver Stone did very well again. Just a little editing is needed. Excellent photography.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Oliver Stone's Savages is a gritty, tough, and often extremely violent
portrait of the world inside a Mexican drug cartel. If this were
designed to be an expose of the drug business, along the lines of
something like Steven Soderbergh's brilliant 2000 epic Traffic, it
might have been something really special, but it isn't, Stone's film is
a standard action movie entertainment from one end to the other created
with great skill but somewhat cold and empty. It has such knowledge of
the inside world of drug trafficking and drug dealing that it makes you
wonder why he bothered to spend such a wealth of information on a basic
The set up for the story promises a lot more than it delivers. It opens by introducing us to the three key players, two men and a woman. The woman is Ophelia (Blake Lively), nicknamed O, who is a wispy new age California girl in her mid-20s whose family history is shameful and who admits that she has been doing drugs since she was in the 8th grade. She shares her home, her heart, and her bed with two men. One is Chon (Tyler Kitsch) a Navy SEAL who returned from Iraq baring deep emotional scars. The other is Ben (Aaron Johnson) a pacifist who has adopted the philosophies and the lifestyle of a Buddhist. She calls both men her lovers, yet the complications of such an arrangement are never really dealt with. Perhaps the fact that the three spend so much time high on pot may explain why.
Chon and Ben are best friends, bonded by a mutual business venture. With Ben's vast expertise in botany, and Chon's supply of primo marijuana seeds that he smuggled back from the Middle East, the two have established a successful business together by virtue of the fact that they are able to produce a more potent product. But a problem arises when they receive a video from the leader of a Mexican Cartel in which several drug dealers have their head cut off with chainsaws. This is a signal that they are going to be made an offer they had best not refuse.
The video comes from The Baja Cartel, led by a woman named Elena (Salma Hayak) and enforced by her right-hand butcher, a nasty, soulless thug named Lado (Benicio del Toro). She is looking to move her business out of Mexico and into the United States and she needs their scientific expertise to make her a better product to sell. The negotiations don't go as planned, the boys quietly attempt to sever all ties in Laguna Beach and go into hiding. While attempting to skip town, O is kidnapped, and thus begins a long and very violent trek to try and get her back in one piece.
In the fullness of what goes on in the film, this synopsis is not a spoiler. Nothing has been given away here because what follows is a strange, and very twisty plot in which we aren't always sure whose is double-crossing who. The film is loaded with memorable characters, most especially John Travolta as a high-strung DEA agent who may or may not be working both sides against the middle. Even when the movie is over, we're still not 100% sure where his loyalties lie. Hayak is also good as the raven-haired drug kingpin whose character keeps revealing new things about herself right up to the very end..
Yet, the best performance in the film comes from Benicio del Toro as Lado, who issues punishments and ultimatums in such grisly fashion that they make the horse head in The Godfather look like a pretty please. There is something missing from this man's soul and it is right there in his eyes. He's a cold and efficient killer whose dead stare makes him completely unpredictable.
What is best about Savages is the way in which it portrays the inside world of the drug trade, the negotiations, the number crunching, the emails and the videos back and forth which raise the stakes. It was interesting the way the movie uses new technology as a means of communication. Once thugs mailed a finger of their victim, now, they email a video of the finger being severed. It is interesting how the movie uses this technology to move back and forth between the desperation of Ben and Chon and the inner-workings of The Baja Cartel. Consider these things then consider how few crime films actually take the time for discussions and negotiations.
The problem is that in the end, the movie doesn't add up to much. Stone is still a brilliant filmmaker. He is at the command of his instrument here. His film looks great, it is photographed beautifully and is edited with great skill by Joe Hutshing who won two Oscars for his work on Stone's films JFK and Born on the Fourth of July. His screenplay, however, doesn't leave you much to ponder when the film is over. It is a great film while you're watching it, but you don't end up taking much away from the film. The three main characters are never more than the sum of their parts so it is hard to care about them. The caper plot isn't all that interesting either. It is your basic "we have to get back what they stole from us" plot, and by the end it is hard to care. You are left to wonder what kind of film Stone had made if he had dropped the overly-familiar caper plot and just focused on the inner workings of the drug business. It is an entertaining film on the surface, but if you're looking for anything beyond the surface, the movie leaves you a little cold.
Ever since Oliver Stone stopped writing his own movies, his movies have
been some incredibly mediocre ones, this one included. But mediocre
still is far from the same as saying that it's also being a bad movie
It's definitely far from a great movie but as a genre movie it serves its purpose well enough and also has some pretty good moments in it. It's flaws and writing prevent this movie from ever becoming a true must-see but it simply remains a good movie to watch, especially for those who are into these type of crime-thrillers, involving drug cartels.
It's not being the best written movie but I also do admit that it's not being the best told movie as well. The movie was definitely lacking some focus and too often was all over the place with its different characters and the movie didn't always had a good and pleasant flow to it. Besides, it was lacking some good, likable main characters. I mean, no matter how you look at it, the main characters are still some criminals, who are not afraid to get their hands dirty and know very well they are breaking the law. I just had a hard time liking them for what they were and therefore also never felt involved with anyone of them, causing me also to never feel involved with the movie or get grabbed by any of its tension, emotions and plot developments.
The movie is also going at some weird places with its story at times and keeps changing directions. The one moment its being a crime-thriller, the other a romantic-drama and the other it suddenly turns into a typical, over-the-top action flick. You could say that the movie keeps surprising you but it doesn't exactly do this in the most convincing or entertaining way.
I wasn't too fond about its lead actors but luckily the movie does still have a solid supporting cast. Benicio Del Toro is always good in this sort of roles and it was nice to see Salma Hayek as a tough 'villain' for a change. John Travolta also shows that he can still be cool in movie and age doesn't hinder him.
This movie movie might still disappoint some Oliver Stone's fans but overall this is being a good genre movie, that still has some hints of a great movie in it.
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