‘Savages’ is Intense and Entertaining
by Jason Harris
Three-time Oscar-winning filmmaker Oliver Stone is back with a new thriller, Savages, which is reminiscent of one of his previous hits, Natural Born Killers.
Savages starts off with a voiceover by Blake Lively (Green Lantern), who portrays Ophelia, but has shorten it to “O” for a number of reasons. She states that she may or may not be alive by the end of her story, which was is a device used in American Beauty (1999). Except in that movie, the character of Lester tells the audience he’s already died.
O introduces Chon and Ben who are in the drug business. Ben, portrayed by Aaron Johnson (Kick-Ass), is the brains behind their superior marijuana and Chon portrayed by Taylor Kitsch (X-Men Origins: Wolverine) is the muscle that deals with problems that arise. Since he is an ex-Navy Seal and ex-mercenary, this makes him well equip to deal with these problems that make-up about one percent of their business. The other 99 percent is violence-free.
Chon, O and Ben live an idyllic life in Laguna Beach in a scene from Savages. Picture courtesy of Universal Pictures.
O, Chon and Ben make-up a post-modern family except in this family O is the girlfriend for both men. O states the men together make-up the perfect guy. The men have no problems sharing her. There is great chemistry between these three actors, which keeps you hoping that they are all alive at the end of the movie.
Their lives become endangered when their operation comes to the attention of the Mexican Baja Cartel, headed by the ruthless Elena “La Reina” portrayed by Salma Hayek (From Dusk Till Dawn). The cartel wants to form a partnership with Ben and Chon, who decline her invitation. This causes O to be kidnapped by Elena’s enforcer, Lado portrayed by Benicio Del Toro (Traffic), who brings a menacing demeanor and look to his role. Earlier in the movie, Lado is shown dealing harshly with a cartel lawyer whose client went to prison. By knowing how lethal Lado is, it puts O in a more precarious situation when she is his prisoner.
There were moments where Stone seems to have been inspired by Quentin Tarantino (Kill Bill, Vol. 1). Those inspired elements are the picture going from color to black and white a few times and his choice of music. One piece of music, “Psycho Killer” by Bruce Lash played after a scene where Lado talked to Elena about killing Chon and Ben. Del Toro has the look of a killer and is only slightly held in check by his boss. Stone made an excellent choice in music for this scene, which is a talent Tarantino has.
The movie is based on Don Winslow’s best-selling crime novel of the same name that was one of The New York Times’ Top 10 Books of 2010. Recently, Winslow released The Kings of Cool: A Prequel to Savages, which is available in paperback on Amazon for $16.50.
Stone fills Savages with intense and funny moments along with a few action scenes. All together the movie is an entertaining thrill ride.