Savages

  • Year:2012
  • Rating:MA
  • Director:Oliver Stone
  • Cast:Aaron Johnson, Taylor Kitsch
  • Release Date:October 18, 2012
  • Distributor:Universal
  • Running time:129 minutes
  • Film Worth:$14.50
  • FILMINK rates movies out of $20 - the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

It’s a dirty and messy firecracker of a film, but one that’s directed with thrill and skill.

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Whether knee deep in greed (Wall Street), politics (Nixon), or grisly violence (U-Turn), and sometimes all three (Salvador), an Oliver Stone film is a film to watch. They don’t always work (Alexander), but they warrant attention. This time, Stone strays to Southern California, Mexico, and the marijuana industry. He takes a few shots at government corruption, but mostly it’s a straight up immorality yarn about the perils of pot.

Chon (Taylor Kitsch) and Ben (Aaron Johnson) are successful growers whose product, with off-the-chart THC levels, attracts unwanted, muscle-bound interest from a Mexican cartel led with vicious, leggy charm by Salma Hayek. Plans to blow them off go wrong when the boys’ lover (Blake Lively) – the trio makes a very attractive, very modern, three-way relationship – is kidnapped, forcing a retreat to Plan B: steal her back. While Ben is a committed Oxfam-Buddhist, Chon is ex-military, which lets Stone bring out the big guns and release a violent game of cat and mouse.

There’s a notional examination of who the savages are, especially once Ben joins in to save his sweetheart, but mostly it’s violence for entertainment’s sake. It leaves you a little dirty, since Stone encourages support for likeable Chon’s murderous team. What happened to good guys who didn’t kill people? Perhaps that’s the point, yet the director never lets his audience get a clear handle on exactly what he’s trying to say. With a tone that wavers between romance, comedy and cruelty, Savages is something of a mess. But with efficient camera work, crisp production, and Benicio Del Toro (scenes between his gangster and John Travolta’s corrupt DEA agent are among the best), it is at least a noisily elegant one.

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