¨It started here in paradise, Laguna Beach, where they say God parked himself on the seventh day, but they towed him on the eighth.¨
When the movie began I thought I was actually watching a trailer for another Hostel movie or something like that, but once I realized that it was actually the opening of Oliver Stone`s new film I knew I was going to be in for something different. I knew the film would be much darker than his latest efforts going back to his Natural Born Killers days and I was excited about it. Then I heard Blake Lively`s voice over narration and it kind of killed the momentum. Despite the fact that there was no need for the narration and some other minor issues, I really enjoyed this film for the most part. I don’t think I was so hooked with a thriller like this one all year. I was literally at the edge of my seat once the boring setup was over with. The two biggest issues I had with this film had to do with the beginning and the ending, but for most of Savages I was really entertained and hooked. There are some great performances here as well, although they had to do more with the secondary characters than the main ones. Savages could have been one of my favorite films of the year if it weren’t for those issues I had. The film is really violent and difficult to watch at times, but if you like these kinds of thrillers then you will enjoy this movie. Oliver Stone made a name for himself way back in 1979 when he won an Oscar for the adaptation of Midnight Express, and followed such success by directing films like Platoon, Nixon, Wall Street, Born on the Fourth of July, JFK, and Any Given Sunday. He`s done very diverse projects, but Savages is perhaps one of his most violent and darkest films to date, at least from this century. It will stick with you long after the movie is over.
Ophelia (Blake Lively), -who actually calls herself O after realizing she was named after the suicidal character from Hamlet- lives an ideal life in Laguna Beach along with her two lovers, Chon (Taylor Kitsch) a former Navy SEAL, and Ben (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) a bright marihuana producer and entrepreneur. Ben and Chon have been best friends since High School and have no problem sharing their love with O. The two friends are very different from each other; Ben is peaceful while Chon who has been affected by war in Iraq is more of a violent person. The two have had success with their marihuana business since the weed that they produce is one of the best in the world. They run things as peacefully as possible, but when a Mexican drug cartel wants to become partners with them, things begin to get out of hand. The cartel is run by la Reina Elena (Salma Hayek), and Lado (Benicio del Toro) is in charge of doing the dirty work. When Elena tries to force the two men to associate with her through Alex (Demian Bichir) and they refuse, she sends O to be kidnapped. Ben and Chon will do whatever it takes to get the love of their lives back, while fighting off this dangerous cartel. A dirty FBI agent named Dennis (John Travolta) assists the Californian duo by providing some key information of the cartel. This is where things begin to get ugly and the violence escalates.
Taylor Kitsch has had a very busy year with John Carter coming out earlier this year and then Battleship. I don’t think he`s a very good actor, but this is perhaps his better work. I really didn’t know who Aaron Taylor-Johnson was until I heard he was the guy from Kick-Ass. He is unrecognizable in this film, and of the three leading actors, he´s by far the best. I thought he gave a strong performance here, although in my opinion the best performances come from the secondary actors. Salma Hayek and John Travolta were great and remind us once again why they have been such successful actors over the years. My favorite performance came from Benicio del Toro who I thought was brilliant and one of the best villains of the year. The story is really gripping and intense; if it weren`t for the narration or the pretty loose ending than this would´ve been a perfect movie. It`s still worth your time and you won`t regret Savages if you enjoy suspenseful thrillers and don`t mind a little bit of violence. It`s not a perfect movie, but I recommend it for the suspense and tension that Stone creates in this noir pulpy film.