It’s Oliver Stone. The setting: Laguna Beach, California. The colors are saturated. I can feel the splash of the water and the hot sand. There’s O (Blake Lively) and her boyfriends Chon (Taylor Kitsch) and Ben (Aaron Johnson) in a functional love triangle—the men are like brothers and she is lover to both.
Ben and Chon cultivate and sell one of the strongest pot strains in the world at 33 percent THC. This puts them in the crosshairs of the Tijuana cartel, who offer/compel the two an 80-20 deal (in favor of the dudes) to go into business. Ben and Chon are happy making their lesser millions and refuse the deal. The cartel is relentless. Ben, the philanthropic one, suggests they give up the business. Afghanistan war vet Chon won’t agree, on principal alone. Cartel queen Elena (Salma Hayek) demands the guys be her worker bees.
The trio plan to scamper across the world and live quietly, leaving no breadcrumbs. Before they take action, the cartel with the help of a double-crossing DEA agent Dennis (John Travolta) kidnap O. Savages is the story of getting O back.
Sounds good? There are several problems. The story isn’t original. It goes on a convoluted path that takes eons to conclude. The ending isn’t bad but by that time, I was super annoyed with the whole lot. And, they are an impressive bunch: Benecio Del Toro as Lado, Hayak and Esteban Reyes (oh wait, that’s Demián Bichir from Weeds playing the same character). I liked Hayak as the female helming the cartel. Savages heads in possibly redeeming directions a few times but they are red herrings, never going deep with any of the characters. You get fed what you should think of all of them and they end up puddle-deep and flawed in uninteresting ways. The story could have done better with O and Elena. It was ripe for transference and countertransference what with an ignored daughter and an ignored mother, respectively. Savages lacks tension. Considering the double crossing and guns, it makes little impact on the nerves. You know from the beginning that the trio will never betray one another. Albeit a unique and strong detail, it makes for lousy suspense.There’s narration by O’s character through the movie that didn’t work.
I didn’t hate it but I can’t say I liked it without stating the caveats. In the end, it got an extreme eye roll.
Director: Oliver Stone
Run time: 130 minutes