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I know of acclaimed director, Oliver Stone, who released one stylish,
deep-thinking, gritty classic film after another. Now, we find that
someone else has only gone and stolen his name and is releasing films,
pretending to be him... oh, wait, my mistake - it IS Oliver Stone.
Perhaps, Oliver Stone has suffered a nasty knock to the head recently and been duped into taking on this film when he wasn't thinking straight? Or maybe he was kidnapped by aliens and replaced with an identical clone who makes this sort of movie. Either way, it's hard to believe that the man who made Platoon, JFK and Natural Born Killers would stoop so low. Actually, that's unfair. If you're into gangster-type films and you just so happened to watch this, you may think it wasn't that bad. Nothing brilliant, but certainly not rubbish. And you'd be right. However, it's an OLIVER STONE film, therefore with that sort of quality name attached to it, you just expect much more.
It's about a trio of drug dealers (two men and one woman), all of which are 'in love.' Then, one day their threesomes are interrupted by a nasty ol' Mexican cartel demanding they take over their business. Then, to make matters worse, the Cartel Cliché only go and kidnap the two guys' girl, leaving them with no one for their ménage a trois. Therefore, they have to go on a rampage to get her back.
Now, this set-up leaves us with some awkward questions. First of all the three 'heroes' are all drug dealers. They live a carefree and lavish lifestyle and it's hard to give a damn whether they get completely wiped out by the Mexicans or not. Secondly, the girl (or Blake Lively) is possibly the most annoying on-screen character this side of Jar Jar Binks. The whole first half hour of the film is taken up with her voice-over, making her come across as a voice in your head which just won't go away. Then, even when she does get kidnapped, she starts complaining about the accommodation and food the drug dealers are offering. Seriously... if I was those two guys I would have placed an add for a new threesome partner online and left her to the Mexicans a long time ago!
Plus the film is long. It tries to be epic, but it does drag in places. Then you have John Travolta, popping up occasionally to majorly overact. To counter this you have the - normally excellent - Benicio Del Toro coming across as if he's half asleep.
Don't get me wrong, the film isn't bad. There are a few cool scenes to make you sit up and take notice, but the whole package just seems a bit underdeveloped and not worthy of Oliver Stone's name.
If you really like gangster/drug deal films, then give it a go - you might like it. But, a lot of criticism has been poured on its ending. I won't give anything away, but I'll certainly say it's novel. You'll either love it or hate it.
No one can deny the genius of Oliver Stone. His resume speaks for itself. But unfortunately, his feature film days are behind him. Sidney Lumet never made a movie half this bad and he directed before the Devil knows you're dead when he was 84. Oliver has just lost his touch. So unfortunately I won't be watching any more Oliver Stone feature films from this point on. Savages was just too savage to sit through. I fast-forwarded through one third of it and it was still unbearable. The characters were dry, one dimensional, and their actions did not match their profiles. And the dialogue was so cliché and on the nose. So whenever there was dialogue scenes I just eventually started fast forwarding because nothing is more boring than watching characters talk about the plot. And the endless voice-over at the beginning middle and end Both unnecessary and painful. Do yourself a favor and skip this. Even the unrated version was disappointing as there was not even any boob shots to fast forward to (What's the point of showing a half- dozen "savage" sex scenes if the chicks leave their tops on?) They show people being beheaded, savage murders, Explosions, gun fights, a guy being burned alive, drugs, lots of filthy language, and several sex scenes with naked male butts thrusting up and down...but no nips? Just a disappointment all around. It's sad when you have to stoop so low to find entertainment in a movie. If you want to see some good sensual nudity, Blackswan or Mulholland Dr., surely deliver. But they also deliver a plot, interesting characters, and good storyline. This literally had nothing going for in the story department and excessive guns, drugs, murder and cliché kidnapping scenario gets old fast. So steaming up the love story would've actually been a huge asset.
"Savages" is one of those films produced, during the "Breaking Bad"
era, which basically exists to show, in a relatively high-brow,
intellectual fashion, that being a drug dealer is seriously cool.
Sadly, however, it isn't, and the last person you'd expect to jump on
this particularly sub-fascist train, would be the director of perhaps
the best ever liberally minded political conspiracy thriller of all
time, Oliver Stone. Stone shows that he's one who will willingly adapt
himself to suit trends, but unfortunately, there is little passion in
this especially empty film. The sunny, travelogue photography never
quite manages to get any dramatic traction with the subject matter, and
the stars are much the same.
Aaron Johnson, Taylor Kitsch and Blake Lively play a particularly unlikely gang of hippyish drug dealers, who seem convinced that they're out to do the world a favour by producing the best marijuana in the industry. The trio are a classic example of the type of empty, soulless good-looking types cast to divert people from the actual substance of your film. All three deliver beautifully dead performances, never managing to sound anything other than bored or unconvincing, and, as the lead characters, they certainly do flatten the drama out impeccably, let alone the immoral politics of their characters' particular beliefs, which leave a lot to be desired. Basically, it's immorality done up in a nice, neat modern bow, which seems like absolutely nothing on the surface, but in actual fact, is deeply subversive to the sort of people who rarely go beneath the surface.
The plot is a mish-mash of romanticised violence, and brutalist-macho clichés which never really transcend a totally bored air from the director, from the script, and from the majority of the performers. As well as the young, hot and tedious trio, there's an equal number of older, but by no means wiser actors who attempt to provide the film with some gravitas. It's a tribute to how bad the majority of the cast are, when Benicio Del Toro is one of the better people on screen, but, on its' own, his performance is utterly lacking in emotional maturity, all full of fake twitchiness and assumed mannerisms, and clichéd sadistic dialogue like "Oh I hate it when they scream," and supposedly weird things, like licking Blake Lively's spit off his own face. Which, admittedly, is pretty damned weird. A kiwi-fuzz John Travolta is on hand to play a dull, expository character, with a performance that illustrates a well-known fact; that John Travolta is a horrendously embarrassing actor, who cannot act to save his life. There's a scene added in the commercially available "extended edition" with him speaking to his dying wife, which beggars belief.
In fact, from casting to plot to substance to morality, there really is very little going on that's worth the wait, and the exorbitantly overlong 2 hours 15 running time goes past very slowly indeed. There are, however, a small handful of things which make this languorous, pretentious, shallow film worth watching, and however small they may be, they contribute an awful lot to this film as a whole. In no particular order, there's a fairly standard informer-punishing scene, with Del Toro in full creepy, over-the-top sadist mode, which overdoes the brutality on a scale appropriate to such an unrealistic, and out of scale film, and the attempts to squeeze a moral dilemma from Aaron Johnson's character seem particularly artificial. However, there's a nice moment of music which kicks in at the close of this scene I believe the track name is "Force of Nature", from the fairly okay score album by Adam Peters. Suffice it to say, that this is the only decent merging of music and image to create an in any way dramatic effect, and it's one of those trailer scenes which sends a chill down your spine, despite the fact you're not really that involved with any of the characters. Because that's what a good soundtrack is capable of doing.
Secondly, and perhaps more importantly though, is Elena, the character, and Salma Hayek, the actress, who I would argue is the only half way decent performer in the entire movie. However, it's not just Salma's performance which is entertaining, but rather her characterisation as a slinky, sexual in control woman who is never objectified as such. Her long, silky black Cleopatra hair, and array of sumptuous gowns and stylish clothing serve to give her more presence than all the skeleton masked psychos going around killing people, and blowing things up. Credit to Costume Designer Cindy Evans and Hair Stylist Rhonda Ann Burns, more known for TV work than big screen fare for elevating this amazing character to iconic status. There's also a gorgeous scene, worth the entrance fee alone, where the regal Hayek sits back and has her feet massaged by Maya Merker, her Hispanic Maid, which she does with all the aloofness of a queen...and,she does have exceptionally beautiful feet. They are the stars of the show, definitely.
If you're still with it, then be prepared for one of the most pointless cinematic gambits you'll ever have seen, with an ending that's so clichéd and flat and pointless, that it had to be preceded by an imaginary over-the-top ending, just to make it seem more "reasonable" by comparison which, by the way, it doesn't. It just concludes a long film unsatisfactorily, with more closeted references to a homosexual relationship between its lead actors than a Josef von Sternberg film. And that's saying something.
The extended edition actually offers virtually nothing to recommend it, and actually includes scenes which were wisely cut in the first place. It's just more of the same, really. So, like I said, there is virtually nothing to recommend it other than the aforementioned gems. Which are pretty damn spectacular, let me tell you. But as a whole film? As an intelligent work of art? As a work of solid entertainment? Nah
Within the first one minute of watching this movie, I judged I would
not like it. A few things struck me, for better and worse. First and
foremost, something about Lively's wistful narrative about California,
her enterprising pot growing lovers and their sunny existence by the
beach made me instantly dislike her and put me on the defensive. Some
of the script here is outstandingly rubbish. On another note, the
colours and score were effusive in these opening moments.
Indeed it is a colourful journey from start to finish and I imagine for some it was quite affecting on this level. Still, for the more cerebral viewing this is in stark contrast with the ménage-a-trois love triangle that is the apex of the movie.
It was interesting premise to start with, sure. And the movie starts like it means to continue with a heady and palpable inertia. This isn't shouldered by our three protagonists who are just never up to bringing more than two dimensional performances to roles which were challenged by both complexity and an often lack - lustre script. At a few key moments their response to certain events just seemed plane unaffected. The movie's biggest asset was Del Toro. He is idiosyncratic, comical and scary all at once. He portrays the psychopathy and greed of the drug cartel convincingly - his crew fronting as a hedge trimming service as he knocks at the doors of his victims has a real depth in black comedy to it (I really wonder if this was born of the script or purely from his characterisation). Truly his performance stands out amongst the rest. Also Travolta looked like he was having fun, but his scenes were few and far between. Salma Hayek plays her part as the other veteran here, although she becomes less of a force as the overly complicated plot unfolds through the high octane narrative.
The movie mostly doesn't succumb to stoner stereotyping, (although Lively talking about 'the best 'erb' on the planet, and all that biting of the lower lip made me want to kick her in the head) and with its original story it's a quirky exhibition. It would be just a slightly sub par venture, were it not for it an effort of Oliver Stones', which makes it feel all the more shoddy.
Entrepreneurs Ben (Aaron Taylor , though Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy,
Garrett Hedlund and James Franco were considered to play him) , a
peaceful and charitable marijuana producer, and friend Chon (Taylor
Kitsch received training from real Navy SEALs as a part of his
preparation and he performed his own stunts) , a former Navy SEAL, run
a lucrative, homegrown industry - raising some of the best weed ever
developed. They also share a one-of-a-kind love with Ophelia (Jennifer
Lawrence was originally cast as O but she pulled out ,Blake Lively was
subsequently selected , Director Stone instructed her to take firearm
training for her role ; despite not being experienced at the gun range,
she hit center mass in her first three shots) . Life is idyllic in
their Southern California town... until the Mexican Baja Cartel decides
to move in and demands that the trio partners with them. When the
merciless head of the BC, Elena (Michelle Rodriguez and Zoë Saldaña
were considered for the role as Elena, but Salma Hayek got the role
instead) and her enforcer, Lado (Benicio Del Toro) , underestimate the
unbreakable bond of the three friends, Ben and Chon - with the
reluctant assistance of a dirty DEA agent - wage a seemingly unwinnable
war against the cartel. And so begins a series of increasingly vicious
ploys and maneuvers in a high stakes, savage battle of wills.
This thrilling film contains noisy action , lots of violence , sexual scenes , plot twists and unpleasant characters . Acceptable protagonist trio , Taylor Kitsch as Chon , a violent and tough ex-Navy SEAl , a gorgeous Blake Lively and the best acting is given by Aaron Taylor-Johnson as a sensitive young who turns into violent one to save his girl . Good support cast plenty of nasty , ominous villains well played by Mexican actors such as Demian Bichir , Benicio Del Toro , Antonio Jaramillo , Joaquin Cosio , though bear offensive racial stereotypes . Special mention to Salma Hayek , whose character of Elena is loosely based on Mireya Moreno Carreon who's known to be the first Mexican female boss cartel . Colorful cinematography by Daniel Mindel , this is Oliver Stone's first film in nearly 17 years to be photographed with Panavision anamorphic lenses . Adequate and lively musical score by Adam Peters .
The motion picture was well directed by Oliver Stone , though includes excessive violence , sexual scenes and unpleasant issues . Stone appears in a cameo as a dancer on the France cardboard skit . Oliver Stone began working on the screenplay adaptation before the book was published . So confidant he was of this story that he himself contributed to investing in the project . ¨Savages¨ is realized in frenetic style and fast-pace , similarly other Stone hits such as ¨Natural born killers¨ or ¨U turn¨ . Oliver Stone is a good professional , though usually panned by mostly critics , nowadays is best considered . Stone returning from the Vietnam war did his first film , it was a student film entitled Last Year in Viet Nam (1971), followed by the gritty horror film Seizure (1974) for which he also wrote the screenplay . The next seven years saw him direct two films: Mad Man of Martinique (1979) and this The Hand (1981) . He also wrote many screenplays for films such as Midnight express (1978), Conan (1982), and Scarface (1983). Stone won his first Oscar for Midnight express (1978), but his fame was just beginning to show .
The storyline and plot of the movie is very good and I think it could have been excellent. Two Young men tied up in growing are sharing a girlfriend. They are both complete polar opposites and this works out great for the woman as well as the storyline. It is a constant struggle between money, staying safe, and the future. Both of the young men have very different ideals on how to obtain this and what they want from their futures. I thought that it had a quality ending and the acting was average, but the constant voice over was very annoying and most of the ending to the movie was very predictable. It is definitely worth a watch but not worth watching more than once.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Really disappointed in Oliver Stone this time around The plot for this movie is contrived at best - how many drug cartels have less than 20 "soldiers"? Benito Del Toro tries to do his best as the cartel bad guy, but his character is fairly one dimensional and cliché at best First of all, Blake Lively can act about as well as Ali McGraw - she looks good on the screen but is bland as vanilla pudding & can't act to save her life. And why would these 2 guys fall for her, aside from her looks? She's devoid of personality & likes to shop for designer labels - doesn't strike me as their type. The ending is stupid, totally unrealistic. Contrived, contrived, contrived.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Best movie I have seen in awhile. Great storyline and plot to it. Blake
Lively narrates throughout the movie like it's her story to tell. She
played the best character I could ever possibly imagine in the movie
and owned it dead on. Her character satisfied me and gave her character
a 100% even though she seemed to portray the character of a slut/whore.
Later on you'll realize why she isn't a slut or a whore - many people
in society need to understand people or a girl like her before they
Anyways if you really like a movie with sexual scenes, drugs, war, gore, nudity, and one smokin hot girl.. this movie is for you.
Two words: Blake Lively. Enjoy.
Aside from the questionable love triangle relationship this film did entertain. An all star cast from Oliver Stone who pulled in some heavy weights to play main characters; Travolta, Heyek, Del Toro. The story line follows the usual route of a film about drugs, a cartel and what happens when something goes wrong.It reminded me slightly of the beach in the bohemian sense that it is filmed with the beautiful locations and equally beautiful cast members.My only criticism if I had to find one is Blake lively is entirely wooden and seems only able to play herself, but I guess she wasn't cast for her acting skills. Nice twist at the end, good for an easy Sunday watch.
"Just because I'm telling you this story doesn't mean I'm alive at the end of it." Ben (Taylor-Johnson) and Chon (Kitsch) are the best pot growers in the world. They have clients from everywhere and are respected. The woman in their lives is O (Lively) and the three of them of a perfect life. When a Mexican Cartel has the idea of joining with them they are surprised when Ben and Chon don't give them the answer they want. The cartel is upset and when they kidnap O Ben and Chon have to do whatever the cartel says to get her back, but everyone has a breaking point. I was really looking forward to this movie. I am a huge Oliver Stone fan and this looked like a throwback to his gritty, "Natural Born Killers" style movies. I have to say I was not disappointed. The movie was tense almost the entire time and had you guessing who was playing who. Selma Hayak was a strange choice to play a cartel leader but after watching this she was a great fit. I will say though that Del Toro was amazing in this I wouldn't be surprised to see him get an Oscar nomination for this, he was so evil in this that he made the movie. If you are a fan of Stone then you will love this like I did. The only complaint I had was that I'm not quite sure I liked the end. You will have to watch and see for yourself. I do recommend this though. Overall, a great movie with an ending I'm not sure I liked or not. I give it an A-.
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