Savages

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Best friends Chon (Taylor Kitsch) and Ben (Aaron Johnson) are marijuana growers living in Laguna Beach, California. Chon, a former Navy SEAL, smuggled the seeds for the plants out of Afghanistan. These seeds yielded a particularly potent strain of marijuana that soon developed a wide customer base and made Chon and Ben very wealthy. The two are in a polyamorous relationship with O (Blake Lively) as a girlfriend.

While Ben is doing charity work overseas, Chon and O receive a video from cartel enforcer Lado (Benicio del Toro), a man they do not know. The video shows several severed heads and a chainsaw, leading them to worry about Ben, who they fear is one of the victims. However, Ben returns safely the next day, and Chon and Ben go to meet with the Mexican cartel. After refusing the cartel’s offer for a partnership, Chon and Ben make plans with O to leave and go to Indonesia for a year, not telling her that they are fleeing the cartel.

Chon and Ben speak to corrupt DEA agent Dennis (John Travolta) who urges them to partner with the cartel. O, meanwhile, is kidnapped by Lado and several members of the cartel. Chon and Ben are notified of O’s kidnapping via a Skype call from cartel leader Elena (Salma Hayek), who threatens to harm O before again urging the two to partner with the cartel.

Chon and Ben speak with Dennis about the situation, but the conversation turns sour, with Chon stabbing Dennis in the hand and punching him in the face. After Dennis angrily leaves, Chon and Ben decide to retaliate. With help from Chon’s Navy SEAL friends, the duo attacks a cartel truck, killing seven of Elena’s men. The duo decides to frame Alex (Demián Bichir) for the murders. With help from Dennis, they falsify the evidence and give it to Lado, who tortures the man before forcing Ben to immolate him. While being tortured, the man begs for his life “on Magda”, revealing to Chon and Ben that Elena’s daughter is still alive.

O has been kept in horrible living conditions while asking to speak to someone. Elena, feeling sorry for her, allows her to contact her mother. While in captivity and after drugging her, Lado rapes O and records it. Elena later brings her to her estate to have someone to talk to.

Meanwhile, Ben and Chon bribe Dennis for information on Magda (Sandra Echeverria), ultimately paying him $3 million for the information and the name of his snitch in Elena’s cartel. After kidnapping Magda, Ben and Chon skype Elena once more, establishing that they are now in control. With Elena at their mercy, the two arrange a meeting, at which point both O and Magda will be released.

The exchange is set to occur in the middle of the desert, with snipers from both sides prepared to fire. Elena requests to know the identity of the man who revealed the location of her daughter, and Chon reveals that it was Lado. Elena attempts to kill Lado, but he shoots her first. An intense firefight erupts, with Chon being shot several times. Lado is shot in the back by Ben, but manages to shoot Ben in the neck before being killed by O. With Ben mortally wounded, Chon injects him, himself, and O with a fatal overdose, so the three can die together.

It is then revealed that this sequence is how O feared the events would transpire. In reality, Lado steals Elena’s car and drives off as DEA agents arrive, led by Dennis. Everyone at the meeting is arrested, but since Ben possesses incriminating information on Dennis, Dennis names Ben and Chon as his informants for the past six years, leading to them being released from jail. Ben, Chon and O leave the country together and live “like savages” in Indonesia.

REVIEW:

For a movie called Savages, this film is quite tame. Oliver Stone’s heralded return to dark, gritty material was supposed to be a tour de force, but doesn’t quite live up to the hype.

What is this about?

When drug cartel leader Elena moves in on the successful pot-growing operation of entrepreneurs Ben and Chon, she kidnaps the pals’ lover, O, to ensure their compliance. Instead, the two men team with a DEA agent and fight back.

What did I like?

Chemistry. Aaron Johnson and Taylor Kitsch have the perfect chemistry for these roles. They display contrasting personalities much like fire and water. Johnson is the cool and calm one while Kitsch is the trigger happy former soldier. You would think the wouldn’t be able to be friends, but somehow they do. Of course the added bonus of drug money and a hot blonde that they share could be a reason.

Hope. Last time I saw Benicio del Toro, it was in the horrid remake, The Wolfman. I guess he knew that flick was bad and took some time off. If this is his comeback role, then kudos to him. This is a great bit acting by him. He gets to be violent, dramatic, and a bit funny. He couldn’t ask for more!

Pacing. I half went into this expecting it to drag on, as Oliver Stone films are known to do. However, the film does move along at a decent pace. There are no real moments of downtime, which I always find to be a plus.

What didn’t I like?

Blake. This is the chick that was a really weak part of Green Lantern, and she is even worse here. Who ever had the brilliant idea to let her narrate needs to have their head checked. Her lifeless, annoying voice does not work for such a task, and when she’s actually on-screen, her acting isn’t much better. Sadly, her best acting s when she’s on her back having sex with Kitsch or Johnson.

Mi familia. There seems to be a strong emphasis placed on family in this film, at least as far as Salma Hayek’s character is concerned. The problem is, while she may be a heartless bitch of a drug lord, she cares for her daughter. The guys however, don’t seem to have any family ties, so it isn’t a weakness for them. Common sense would tell you that you need to make sure your family is well-hidden and protected, especially as a crime lord!

Corrupt agent. What kind of drug cartel film would we have without the prerequisite corrupt DEA agent. John Travolta started off as an interesting character, but regressed into some sort of sad excuse for a man. Travolta deserves better than this and it pained me to watch him in such a meaningless role, despite the fact that this character is pivotal to the story.

Savages wasn’t savage enough for the way it was advertised. I expected something much more brutal, but instead got savage-lite. Is this a film that is worth seeing? I wish I could say yes, but I can’t. It is another supremely average picture with an overpaid cast.

3 out of 5 stars

2 Responses to “Savages”

  1. […] didn’t kill this guy’s career, contrary to popular belief. He had a decent part in Savages and now he’s starring in this, giving perhaps the performance of his career. From what […]

  2. […] clear enunciation. In a bad narrating decision that rivals having Blake Lively do the narrating in Savages, someone had the brilliant idea for Sylvester Stallone to narrate this. Correct me if I’m […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: