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Savages Review
By Darrin Jones / July 6

Ingredients: If you liked the cinematography of Domino, the action of Natural Born Killers, and the acting of Alexander, then you will like this movie. And aren’t you just so edgy.

What did I have for lunch today? Who keeps kicking my seat? Did I just put my shoe in something sticky? These are just a few of the things going through my mind before I realized I was suppose to be watching a movie. Yeah, so you can guess how my review of Savages is going to go. In Laguna Beach, pot dealers Ben (as played by Aaron Johnson) and Chon (Taylor Kitsch) have a three-way relationship with their girlfriend, ‘O’ (Blake Lively). When ‘O’ is held hostage by a Mexican drug cartel run by the ruthless queenpin, Elena (Salma Hayek), the two have to take drastic measures to get her back alive. The clock is ticking as the Elena’s enforcer, Lado (as played by Benicio Del Toro), begins growing unstable and starts conspiring against them all.

What’s the best way to describe Savages? Indie movie cliches. Lots and lots of indie movie cliches. There is pretentious narration, sudden color and texture shifts, and the ending stalls with a long drawn-out scene that was little more then a dream sequence. The director, Oliver Stone, was definitely trying to make a movie with a message. What’s the message? Something along the lines of “fuck you Conservatives!” comes to mind. Savages starts off with ‘O’ explaining that the drug business of Ben and Chon is just one step away from Nirvana. Why, the weed sales are what allows Ben to go help the African children and finance his dream for renewable fuel, when he’s not surfing and helping cancer patients, that is. And the dialogue. Wow. When Savages tries to pull off its deep philosophical meanings, it is hilarious. “I have orgasms, he has wargasms.” “You can’t change the world, the world changes you.” And my personal favorite, “Buddha would not approve.” And you got to love a movie that reestablishes its title every 20 minutes or so. Some of the audience might’ve suffered concussions with how often Mr. Stone tried to keep hammering in the point.

It’s obvious Oliver Stone was trying to bring back some of his old thunder, like with Natural Born Killers, but Savages just came out as obnoxious. There’s not enough crazy gunfights and gooey, gooey violence for adrenaline junkies and not enough character development for savvy moviegoers. The acting from Salma Hayek and Benicio Del Toro is incredible, as always, but John Travolta and Taylor Kitsch were laughably bad by comparison. (And is it just me or does Taylor Kitsch just keep whatever haircut he had in his last movie?) But back on topic, Travolta’s lines were truly the most horrendous. His character, Dennis, has a wife dying of cancer for which he gives her some of Ben and Chon’s marijuana to help with the chemotherapy. That was all fine and good until Dennis felt the need to point out that his wife was dying in EVERY SINGLE SCENE. No joke. Commenting on his wife’s condition became the period for his sentences.

I know it’s hard to pull of a love triangle in a film and I do give Mr. Stone credit for making a movie that focuses on a more modern day look at relationships. However, I have to immediately point out how useless that idea is when the audience is only ‘told’ that there’s a relationship and not ‘shown.’ And we’re told through the cringe-inducing narration. I really did have a problem with the ‘O’ character, and not just because of her bohemian voice-over. ‘O’s primary function in the film was to get the plot started and little more. Just mere hours after being told that she, Ben, and Chon would be fleeing the country because a drug cartel might want to kill them, she decides to go shopping. I guess she didn’t have the right outfit for "running for your life." But because Mr. Stone doesn’t want her to be completely bubble-headed, she actually does some pretty clever things. She even manages to secure more comfortable surroundings at Elena’s temporary home by winning her over. It’s just too bad that nothing ever comes of it.  

The appeal of Savages is solely for the indie crowd and die-hard Oliver Stone fans. The writing is subpar and action is lacking. The only thing it has going for it is the avant-garde cinematography but you would get the same effect from any competent film student. My final verdict: skip Savages, watch Platoon instead. I hear Oliver Stone directed it.


  1. Were your expectations too high because it was Oliver Stone?

    1. Not at all. I didn't even think about the fact that Oliver Stone directed it until I was watching the movie and realized how incredibly pretentious it was. Really, I just think it was a bad movie.