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|Index||276 reviews in total|
This was a cracking film. The cast is just fantastic; there are plenty of younger stars, but the big three, Hayek, Travolta and Del Toro are electric, even though the story isn't exactly centred around them, when they appear it's first rate, Saturday night entertainment - action, guns, violence and good old American, 1980s, Christian morals thrown in for good measures. The title is god awful, even given the theme of the film (no spoilers here), it doesn't make any sense to me that they'd call the film Savages - Beautiful Savages maybe. Any way, apart from that minor criticism there is nothing about the actual film that is half-baked or ill conceived - it rocks from start to finish and sees Oliver Stone return to true form, who has had some belters, but he's had some utter doozers too, Savages comes under the former.
Oliver Stone presents an outlaw, raw but beautiful at the same time
setting. A woman who shares two men (two men will certainly go and
woman) engaged in the production of marijuana and a Mexican "Cartel"
that has no qualms about human lives.
"Saveges" is a film of wild, because for us everything is strange and beyond our usual circle is cataloged as wild, barbaric. For each of the characters, there's something wild different. This cruelty embodied in a spectacular setting, seems to me one of the greatest successes of the film, a great contrast. Each character adds his touch, a more restrained and more violent, as the great Benicio del Toro, totally without scruples and sensitivity.
The plot of the movie is good, interesting and well spun, if somewhat pretentious. The dialogues are pretty good, I expected much less of the script, which is quite worked, although the presentation of the characters is very original and shines by its simplicity.
The main characters are fantastic, both the two friends, as the head of the Mexican cartel or played by Travolta agent. But perhaps the best character does Benicio del Toro, masterful; It is a disgusting, ambitious and complex character played by a great actor. Moreover, Travolta is superb, although few appearances, is important in the plot. Blake Lively is correct, and this film can give a good boost to your career, like Aaron Johnson, who has a good career, but discreet.
Finally, note the fantastic photography, the pace of the plot and the great work of Stone and Winslow The finish is really not at all desired, but the twist that makes Stone is accepted. Perhaps the character of Salma Hayek is less solid and more expendable. Still, it is "a savage, a brutality".
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.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Being a fan of Benicio del Toro and John Travolta I thought I would
enjoy this movie quite a bit. Both del Toro and Travolta were both at
their best here, their scenes were excellent, both gave a wonderful
performance and really brought their characters to life. Benicio del
Toro plays Lado, a psychotic enforcer for a Mexican drug cartel run by
a truly lovely Salma Hayek who also gives a great performance as a
basically unhappy woman who had lost her husband and her twin sons. Her
other son and only daughter are distanced from her, her son angry that
he did not inherit the business and her daughter, the only truly decent
person in the whole movie is ashamed of what her mother does for a
These actors were the high note of the film, the low being Blake Lively as Ophelia Sage or as O as she liked to call herself.
Taylor Kitsch as Chon and Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Ben, O's two boyfriends all living in a ménage à trois are marijuana growers living in Laguna Beach. Chon, a Navy Seal and veteran of Afghanistan brought back Marijuana seeds for his best friend Ben, a business graduate and botanist to cultivate making them both quite wealthy.
Things are fine until they receive a video showing several severed heads and a chainsaw along with a demand for a meeting.
That is when their idyllic lives are completely disrupted. Elena Sánchez (Salma Hayek) wants not only their business, but the two men as well. Even though they offer the business to her, she wants them to stay simply because their product is so good and she needs their expertise. She also needs a foothold in America because she is losing all her political connections in Mexico.
When they refuse, Elena has O kidnapped and that is when it all hits the fan.
This should have been a great movie, and it could have been except for Blake Lively's annoying performance. Her character was a moron who seemed oblivious to everything around her. Instead of picking up that they were in serious danger, (hell you would think the video would have tipped her off) she chooses to go out to dinner and go shopping. Talk about being handed the idiot ball. Also her narration was a mistake. The whole stoner, 'omigod I am so wasted' thing wore pretty thin pretty fast. I mean 'wargasims' seriously? Pity as it was a good role that could have brought something to the film, but it was wasted. I can't help but think what a good actress like a young Jodi Foster or Maggie Gyllenhaal could have done with this role.
The two male leads were not quite as bad but they were completely overshadowed and outclassed by del Toro and Travolta. Although they did have a couple of good moments just not enough to really hold interest.
The movie is only saved by Hayek, del Toro and Travolta. Seriously, they are the only reasons to sit through this.
Magda (Sandra Echeverria)who plays Elena's estranged daughter puts in a fine performance and it is a pity she did not have a bigger role. To be honest, she is the only likable character in the whole film. O is too much of a rich spoilt stoner dimwit to like, Chon is a downright nasty piece of work and just as bad in his own way as Lado. Ben is sweet, but whiny and ineffectual.
Kudos to Diego Cataño as Estéban, another secondary character way more interesting and sympathetic than the three leads.
Elena also brings some sympathy and her fate at the end of the film makes you feel bad for her. But she is a bad person who does evil things. The torture scene makes you realize this, although her one saving grace is her love for her daughter. It actually makes her more than a one dimensional character.
Lado is a joy though, he is a nasty, crazy violent man who seems to take delight in torture. He rapes O as punishment for going over his head to Elena and when he shows her the video of it, she spits on his face. He calmly wipes the spit on his fingers, licks it off then uses her hair to wipe his face clean. Man that is cold. What he does to Alex (Demián Bichir), (who Chon and Ben framed, by the way, these are the guys we are supposed to be cheering for.) is ugly. He is also an abusive husband, His poor wife, Dolores in a great performance by Mía Maestro just wants out but he threatens to take their two sons and daughter to Mexico so she can never see them again.
Dennis Cain (John Travolta) plays the corrupt DEA agent whose wife is dying leaving him to raise two little girls on his own. You feel a little more sympathy for him when you see him sitting talking to his terminally ill wife. The scene with him and Lado is probably the high point of the film. It's nice seeing these two talented actors together.
Overall, the film could have been better with a stronger female lead and a couple of male leads that you could like and cheer for. Sadly I was left not caring what happened to any of them.
Also the fake ending was stupid, pointless and took away from the film. Have the ending you wanted to have, don't give us a fake ending, then a real ending. It really ruined the film for me.
All up, not one of Oliver Stone's better efforts. I can't help but wonder if I would have like the film if the leads had been more likable. I am not sure but it is a good film if you like violent action movies about drug cartels.
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
When I first saw the trailer for this film I thought it was completely
ridiculous. I was put on to it by a friend at a completely random and
unexpected time. I was in no mood for movie watching, but the opening
dialogue did however catch my attention. So I watched, and was amazed
and befuddled by the experience. I became addicted to this film. I
must've watched it a dozen times in the next month. I have been a fan
of cinema since my days of being a young teen and using movie watching
to get girls in my bedroom after school.
I can definitely understand why so many are let down by the film. I walk this life knowing that the majority of this world are looking to be hand fed entertainment and reluctant to understand anything that is different than the norm.
This movie is exactly the opposite. There is an amazing parallel that is drawn in this film between the the top of the top and the lowest of the low, sometimes these lines are shown to us at the same time and I feel this is very much overlooked by many of these reviews.
I look at this film as a classic in crime drama/thriller, up there with the likes of Goodfellas, Scarface, The Departed, etc.
It is different. That is what I enjoyed about it. If you fall victim to getting hung up on the little things you will miss the perspective that is the gift of this film.
Oliver Stone directs this 131-minute crime thriller, based on the highly-acclaimed novel of the same name by Don Winslow. Young actors Taylor Kitsch (the idiot from "Battleship") and Aaron Johnson, play Chon and Ben, two young men who grow the best marijuana in California, and they both seem to have a noticing, two-timing relationship with a very gorgeous Blake Lively, at the same time. At one point, a Mexican cartel led by Salma Hayek, wants to end up working with these two. After they reject the offer, everything goes haywire after the cartel has decided to kidnap Blake Lively hostage, until they take the deal, but that won't stop these two from trying to rescue her. Sadly, a talented cast isn't enough to make anything terrific from this empty and formulaic thriller. Although decently directed by Oliver Stone, and has a bunch of impressive performances, "Savages" is not one of those insanely dark thrillers that I was expecting from the trailer, when instead is a bloated and routine story that kind of bored me for the most part. But there are plenty of positive aspects that make the film worth watching for the most part. The first two acts are somewhat decent, but Oliver Stone delivers his noticeable trademark of dark and graphic violence, gritty sex, and insanely disturbing torture scenes. But the one silver- lining of this movie is provided by three performances, from three professional actors in the supporting cast. First, Salma Hayek delivers an electrifying performance as the cartel leader, mixing her native Spanish language, with the already written English dialouge, making the best out of this material. Second, John Travolta sends off a wickedly funny role as the corrupt DEA agent, with no idea which side to choose. But, of course, Benicio del Toro brings a crazy and psychopathic performance, playing one of the scariest sick-heads to ever roam the planet. Watching these three actors perform on screen is always fun to watch. But as for the main ensemble, filled with the young actors, is nothing engaging. Although I will admit that Taylor Kitsch and Aaron Johnson deliver decent-enough performances, I wasn't impressed with Blake Lively. Although she looked attractive, I bet that that was her only soul purpose. An uninteresting character aside, her delivery in narrating the film seems a bit too distracting, and mostly uncomfortable to listen. Some cheesy writing was involved, and Lively just went way too overboard with the material. Most moments in the plot felt a bit drawn out and unfinished, and there are times when it feels too routine, that you can actually spot the next plot point coming miles away. But what angered most audiences, especially myself, was not only the jumbled third act, but the film's conclusion left a major "let-down" to people who were expecting a bloody and intense conclusion, when we end up getting a bland one. Although there are great performances to be had, and some entertaining moments, I expected much more, but I was sadly disappointed! But, overall, for it's many flaws including a cluttered script, uninteresting main characters, and a bland finale, this film works when it succeeds, but fails when it doesn't. "Savages", in my review, "sadly unsatisfying, with forgettable thrills".
When I first saw Savages pop up on the radar, I was stoked. A story
about two guys going up against the Mexican cartel, directed by Oliver
Stone? Sounds awesome. Once I saw that Emile Hirsch was cast, I was all
in (for some reason, I'll see anything the guy is in). Well...did it
live up to the hype?
Savages is one of the most poorly written screenplays I have ever had the pleasure of watching unfold on screen. The dialog is laughable, and none of the characters have any traits that an audience member would want to latch on to. One of the bits of dialog, right in the first five minutes of the film, says something to the effect of "I have orgasms, he has wargasms." Sounds like something that a tenth grader would write in the first draft of a dramatic short story. The acting is just about the same caliber.
There's one action scene that was well done, but it was short and, well...too little, too late. This train wreck doesn't even end in a satisfying way.
Avoid this mess. What was Oliver Stone thinking?
This flick didn't disappoint me at all as it had some wicked scenes and
enticing dialogues with some strong performances by all the main
characters. The thing that is flick so good is, BENICIO DEL TORO as he
did some 2 levels above acting and made this ordinary movie, extra
ordinary. It cant be an award winner sort of a flick but yes, Del
Toro's acting does deserve few acting awards as He proved himself yet
again. Few other actors also did well, like Salma Hayek portrayed the
character of a divorced Drug business owner with a softer side as a
Mother of a daughter. The other famous actor John Travolta is also
there, but I dint really like his role that much as He become so
Go watch it and trust me, you will be more than happy to watch this flick...
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