Resisting the urge to condemn every aspect of this film as “savage”, this is one movie to live up to its title.
Oliver Stone’s latest contribution to the film world is “that kind of story” (a quote literally taken from the film) that could literally take any turn. It is the fast and not-so-straight-forward story of two friends, Chon (Taylor Kitsch – John Carter) and Ben (Aaron Johnson – Kick Ass), and their mutually shared lover, O (Blake Lively – Gossip Girl). Living a picturesque lifestyle in a Southern Californian town, the trio reap the profits from home-grown weed – a successful business grown from seeds brought back from Afghanistan by ex-Navy Seal, Chon.
Not long into the film and the threesome’s idyllic life is interrupted by the Mexican “Baja Cartel”. Demanding in on their partnership, the merciless Mexicans don’t take no for an answer and resort to the most heinous powers of persuasion. Leading the BC is the feisty Elena (Salma Hayak) and her vicious enforcer, Lado (Benicio Del Toro), who will go to any lengths to convince the boys to unite with them on their proposed “joint” venture.
After Elena and the BC commit foul play, resulting in O’s kidnap, Chon and Ben are forced to pool their contacts and talent in order to repatriate their damsel in distress. Like polar opposites, Chon represents the soulless soldier having a “wargasm” to every one of O’s orgasms, while Ben’s morals stretch into the justification of using marijuana for medicinal purposes – condoning their use as pain-relief for the terminally ill – more eco-warrior than fighter.
John Travolta plays the reluctant DEA agent, as dirty and bent as they come, but whose insider knowledge comes into good use with Chon and Ben’s rescue mission. Along with Chon’s sniper friends, the duo look set to conquer Elena and the BC, and thus the blood and gore commences.
Savages is a heavy film. Even to a desensitised audience of modern day, the shock of a torture scene with Stone’s close-ups of mutilated flesh and decapitated bodies makes for a gruesome show. Throw in a rape scene and the film takes on a whole new level of savage!
Stone has done a good job with Savages – overall this film is enjoyable to watch, specifically for those who like fast-paced crime thrillers. The character match is spot on: both Kitsch and Johnson do an excellent job as their juxtaposed personalities, whilst any actress picked for the role of O was likely to annoy the audience because of her position as the lover of not one good looking chap, but two, and also her incessant narration over the top of the film, explaining what was going on, and how “it’s that kind of a story”.
With a soundtrack that includes fitting songs such as Legalize It (Peter Tosh), Psycho Killer (Bruce Lash), and Here Comes The Sun (Yuna), there is little detail left out of this film preventing its impact. Overall, a savage success.
Watch the trailer for Savages here