Page 1 of 3
Oliver Stone's drug tale doesn't pack a mean punch, but it's still gritty, violent fun....
Universal / 142 Minutes / 2012 / Unrated / Street Date: November 13, 2012
There's little (may no) cultural or philosophical import to Oliver Stone's Savages, and depending on where you're sitting, that either liberates it or severely limits its potential. If Stone's name wasn't raggedly affixed to Savages' summer trailers, you'd hardly even know that the double-Oscar-winner was behind it, seeing as Stone's once-unique 'vertical editing' style has become an industry norm, and this ends up being either the film's selling point or proof that Savages is a disappointing missed opportunity.
The film is ostensibly about weed, greed, and the complicated nature of a seismically upturned global infrastructure (in theory, I suppose, it has 'Oliver Stone' stamped all over it). Savages follows two dudes - Taylor Kitsch and Aaron Johnson - who look to make money off of selling an enhanced string of grass, but through the prism of Stone's syntax, they of course occupy two sides of the spectrum: one wants to shoehorn his newfound wealth into altruistic philanthropy, the other is so internally mangled by both the drug world and his stint in Afghanistan that he gets pretty much lost in the shuffle.
As is the case with the vast majority of drug tales, what starts as an attempt to look past the law just an itty-bitty-bit to make some cheddar turns into some way bigger and more perilous than our protagonists could have imagined. And Stone really lets his characters have it: these nice boys not only have to deal with drug lords like Benicio del Toro, but John Travolta pops up as a DEA agent who makes it very clear he's excited to be paid off, and even Salma Hayek stops by as a marijuana mastermind who doesn't like anybody else on the block making more than she does.
Critics like to affix extra aesthetic meaning to movies made by esteemed directors, and just because Savages was directed by the guy who helmed Born on the Fourth of July, I feel myself leaning in that direction. But Savages is just dull enough that I can't quite connect those dots. It's a perfectly well-made drama/thriller with hot chicks (Blake Lively is quite easy on the eyes) and staccato action sequences, but Savages is cursory and non-indelible. But hey - if you hate Oliver Stone movies and are intrigued by Savages' setup, this is good news....