Newest Reviews
You Don't Nomi
Man from the Alamo, The
Vast of Night, The
Furies, The
Days of the Bagnold Summer
Black Power Mix Tape 1967-1975, The
Apartment 1BR
Looking On the Bright Side
Take Me Somewhere Nice
Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn
Gentlemen Broncos
To the Stars
Lady Godiva Rides Again
Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ
Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, A
This is a Hijack
Loved One, The
Jumanji: The Next Level
Krabi 2562
Call of the Wild, The
Diary of a Country Priest
Sea Fever
Throw Down
Grudge, The
Green Man, The
Specialists, The
Romantic Comedy
Going Ape!
Infinite Football
Little Women
Camino Skies
Another Shore
Cry Havoc
Newest Articles
Who Watched The Watchmen?
The Golden Age of Colonic Irrigation: Monty Python Series 4 on Blu-ray
Lady of Pleasure: Lola Montes on Blu-ray
Take You to the Gay Bar: Funeral Parade of Roses on Blu-ray
Hit for Ms: Mark Cousins' Women Make Film on Blu-ray
Look Sinister: The 1000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse on Blu-ray
Star Wars Triple Threat: The Tricky Third Prequel and Sequel
I Can See for Miles: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes on Blu-ray
Too Much Pressure: The Family Way on Blu-ray
The Alan Key: Alan Klein and What a Crazy World on Blu-ray
A Japanese Ghost Story: Kwaidan on Blu-ray
The Zu Gang: Zu Warriors from the Magic Mountain on Blu-ray
Reality TV: The Year of the Sex Olympics on DVD
The Young and the Damned: They Live By Night on Blu-ray
Mind How You Go: The Best of COI on Blu-ray
Der Kommissar's in Town: Babylon Berlin Series 3 on DVD
The End of Civilisation as We Know It: The 50th Anniversary
The Whalebone Box: The Andrew Kotting Interview
Being Human: The Elephant Man on 4K UHD Blu-ray
It's! Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 3 on Blu-ray
Put the Boot In: Villain on Blu-ray
The Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 2: Vic Pratt Interview
All the Lonely People: Sunday Bloody Sunday on Blu-ray
Desperate Characters: Beat the Devil on Blu-ray
Chansons d'Amour: Alfie Darling on Blu-ray
  Savages All gone to pot
Year: 2012
Director: Oliver Stone
Stars: Blake Lively, Taylor Kitsch, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, John Travolta, Salma Hayek, Benicio Del Toro, Emile Hirsch, Shea Whigham, Karishma Ahluwalia, Sandra Echeverria
Genre: ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 2 votes)
Review: O (Blake Lively) is a sun-kissed California beach bunny sharing an unconventional romance with two best friends: former Navy SEAL Chon (Taylor Kitsch) and idealistic entrepreneur Ben (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). Their idyllic Laguna Beach lifestyle is funded by their homegrown business producing the best weed in the state, profits from big-hearted Ben also funnels into helping impoverished orphans in the Third World. Unfortunately their success attracts the attention of ruthless Mexican cartel baroness, Elena (Salma Hayek). She has O abducted by her monstrous enforcer, Lado (Benicio Del Toro), aiming to coerce Ben and Chon into handing over their business, but instead drives the duo to desperate measures.

Oliver Stone’s latest was largely castigated by critics mistakenly expecting a corruscating analysis of America’s war on the drugs trade. In reality, Savages runs closer to an experimental exploitation film, albeit at times an overcooked one. Much like the underrated U Turn (1998), the film finds Stone at his most playful, stirring his expected polemical rhetoric into a wayward plot by turns satirical, visceral and oddly elegaic. While more than a few critics were turned off by the Zen surfer philosophy and neo-hippie idealism espoused by its central characters, and encapsulated in O’s dreamy narration, but Stone really nails the vibe of the area which proves a crucial facet of the film’s agenda. The drugs trade and brutality of the Mexican cartels prove simply the backdrop for an allegorical tale of lost innocence and naivety unmasked. The film takes its characters on a journey from heaven to hell, challenging their preconceived ideas about love, relationships, morality and most importantly the reality of the business in which they are enmeshed. While Ben believes their pot profits can be put to altruistic use and O believes her bond with both men is a sincere form of love, their nightmarish experience at the hands of more amoral characters cause them to wonder if they are kidding themselves.

Working in collaboration with source author Don Winslow - who spent six years researching the cartels and Drug Enforcement Agency for an earlier book, “The Power of the Dog” - enabled Stone to strike a note of authenticity around the various cartel power plays and negotiations featured herein. Examining the drugs trade in wryly economic terms, the film basically outlines a clash between idealistic independant entrepreneurs and ruthlessly business-minded cartels, which the script amusingly likens to a clash between smallholders and WalMart. The film dawdles too long before getting to the setup with plot elements that seem to have strayed out of a Latin telenovella. Nevertheless, once things kick into gear, Stone steers the film down an intriguingly serpentine path from suspenseful to darkly comic. Especially interesting is the unexpected dynamic that develops between O and Elena, who comes to develop an almost maternal bond with her captive in the face of a deteriorating relationship with her own daughter (Sandra Echeverria). Indeed Blake Lively’s authentic potrayal of a wide-eyed California naif was unjustly maligned. Although the usually excellent Aaron Taylor-Johnson is curiously nondescript, Taylor Kitsch gives his strongest performance yet in a year that hasn’t proven especially notable for the actor.

The real star turns come from more established performers. Benicio Del Toro excels as an utterly vile excuse for a human being, John Travolta is magnificently reptilian as a corrupt DEA agent (humanised by a sincere love for his dying wife) and Salma Hayek proves an inspired, atypical casting choice for menacing matriarch Elena whom you completely believe has Lado under her thumb. Stone indulges his love of mixing multiple film formats but it pays off better here than in the irksome bombast of Natural Born Killers (1994). However the film’s transgressive levels of violence and in some instances sexual violence may prove too grotesque for some while the multiple endings are a misstep. Stone gives us the visceral, darkly romantic conclusion most moviegoers might expect of a film like this, then tacks on an ironic substitute that seems a more likely conclusion in real life but still proves unsatisfying.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam


This review has been viewed 1569 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film


Oliver Stone  (1946 - )

Didactic, aggressive and in-your-face American writer-director who, after directing a couple of horrors (Seizure and The Hand) and writing Midnight Express and Scarface, settled into his own brand of political state-of-the-nation films like Salvador, the Oscar-winning Platoon, Wall Street, Talk Radio, JFK, Natural Born Killers and Nixon. Slightly out of character were The Doors and U-Turn: respectively, a celebration of the late sixties and a sweaty thriller. In 2004 he experienced his biggest flop with Alexander, a historical epic, but followed it with the reverent World Trade Center and a biopic of then just-leaving President George W. Bush. A belated sequel to Wall Street and gangster movie Savages were next. Say what you like, he has made his mark and loads of people have an opinion on him.

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Enoch Sneed
  Hannah Prosser
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
  Butch Elliot
  Rachel Franke
Paul Smith


Last Updated: