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*** 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 ***
"Is this not why you are here?"- Gladiator. I revoke this question
delivered by Maximus (Russel Crowe)in Gladiator, because if you are
disappointed by this film then that reflects greatly on your
perception, or lack of looking into the film before you watch it.
Savages is well made and has many strengths along with some weaknesses. The movie starts as the trailer does, O (Blake Lively) is telling us she may or may not be alive at the end of this story. Soon after we are introduced to her "boys". We learn that Chon (Taylor Kitsch) is an veteran from the Iraq war and he is a "killer". Next comes the other half Ben (Aaron Johnson). I say other half because O describes the two individuals as her one man.
No time is wasted to getting to the conflict of this story. A Mexican drug cartel are introduced with their savagery and eloquence juxtaposed. First we see them as murderous savages who cut off people's heads with chainsaws. But once Ben and Chon go to the meeting with the cartel after receiving their video threat, we see a different side of this cartel. The men representing their boss are eloquent, articulate and seemingly aggressive businessmen. It's clear that Ben and Chon have to work with the Cartel or disappear. They choose the latter but of course O is kidnapped before they can disappear.
O is kidnapped on the order given by Elena (Selma Hayek) the leader, with the plan to stronghold the pot dealers into doing business with her. Selma is menacing, strong, but not void of emotion or compassion. Truthfully all the main actors in this film are convincing in their roles. Benicio Del Toro (Lado) is great as usual and is most villainous in this film. Travolta plays no saint either, being a corrupt DEA agent playing many angles. Travolta does a good job of playing this character that is more mysterious than you would guess.
What you can guess is this movie is pretty action packed, along with decently thrilling. As I said before this movie is clearly made by an expert. There were some interesting motifs. One being the grim reaper, and death related art. Which is an obvious choice considering the display of death and it being apart of Mexican culture. Another being canted shots, which I found effective with the overall themes and moods of the film. Overall the pacing of the film was very effective for the action and thrill of the film. But for the other aspects of the film I found the rhythm and just how the overall way everything was handled to be less effective and off putting. For example the sex scenes and moments of calm(well calm for this movie anyways).
However there is value in this film beyond the action and thrill. Which is again due in no small part to Oliver Stone's skill. This movie is well made and the makers most likely made exactly what they intended to. That is to say the targeted demographic is given exactly what they grave. So if you have seen the trailer and it seems like your kind of movie, it probably is and you will most likely enjoy it.
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.
Oliver Stone is amongst the bravest & most influential storytellers of
Cinema. His magnificent body of work speaks in volumes & is sure to
last a legacy. With 'Savages', Stone delivers a Yet Another Winner! Its
twisted, gory, potty-mouthed & utterly delicious!
'Savages' Synopsis: Pot growers Ben and Chon face off against the Mexican drug cartel who kidnapped their shared girlfriend.
'Savages' works big time because the Screenplay is so well-written, despite its paper-thin plot. Shane Salerno, Don Winslow & Stone's Adapted Screenplay is hard-core & undeniably arresting. Of course, it won't appeal to the faint-hearted, but, 'Savages' isn't even meant for them. Stone's Direction is masterful, as always. Cinematography is magnetic. Editing is fair. Art & Costume Design are proper.
Performance-Wise: Benicio del Toro is mesmerizing. The Oscar-Winning Actor plays the monstrous villain with rare ease. Taylor Kitsch is decent. Aaron Taylor-Johnson is first-rate. Blake Lively & Salma Hayek are excellent. John Travolta plays the sly cop, superbly. Emile Hirsch & The Marvellous Demián Bichir are admirable in cameos.
On the whole, 'Savages' is a knockout!
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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I like this movie a lot. I know some people for some reason didn't like the movie. i liked it because you didn't really know how it was going to end til it ended. It was a very good movie til the end. I didn't like the ending, and i was hoping the benicio del toro character got what he had coming in the end, and Heyaks characters daughter would be return to her, and have better appreciation for her mother. Also, i was hoping that John Travolta's character had a twist some how at the end; since he was playing both sides. Lastly, i think the end could have used a little more gun shot out on both sides, but all and all it was a good movie.
I love Oliver Stone, but he has his hits and misses. This one was a
miss. I don't feel the need to review the plot since you all most
It's a very very very unrealistic movie, that tries to act realistic. There are many plot holes. It tries to be gritty and action packed, which it is, but nothing more. It has an awesome cast, with Selma Heyek, John Travolta, Benicio Del Toro. I personally do not care for Blake Lively, but this film made me really not like her. Her narration was so unnecessary, I probably would've liked it better if it wasn't narrated. She was an extremely bland character, who got very annoying. Aaron Johnson and Taylor Kitsch were OK, nothing great. Selma,John, and Benicio were good. They played their roles very well.
The gore and violence could disturb some, but I've had my share of gory movies that were much worse. So if you are not used to gore and violence, then it could come across as extreme.
This movie was just a mess, the story had so much potential.
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