Oliver Stone is past his prime, let’s get that out of the way first. His new film, Savages, about two highly successful drug dealers that peacefully share the same love interest and end up clashing heads with the cartel, is yet another film that showcases the fading director that cemented his name in cinema with films like Platoon and JFK. Despite this film being in the “miss” side in Stone’s book, there are still a few aspects of the film that keep Savages from being clocked cold.
Stone’s visual style is still very entertaining to watch, as well as it is effective. The movie switches between filters to distinguish certain levels of intensity, going from saturated, to grainy, to soft and back again. The editing is also sharp, with the scenes being laced with cuts of isolated visuals; like a time lapse of a marijuana plant growing. Another thing that Stone hasn’t lost his touch in is the action. While the action in Savages is few and far between, when it happens it’s admirably raw and lives up to the movie title. The film is injected with enough intensity and action to keep most viewers awake and slightly interested, and then there’s the acting…
Aaron Johnson, Taylor Kitsch and Blake Lively, the drug dealing love trio, are the main characters in the film. It’s a shame that they don’t stand out. The acting that stands out comes from the veterans. Salma Hayek, playing Elena the Queen B of the drug world, does a terrific job with her character. She’s ruthless because she has to be, but we also get to see her yearning for a connection with her daughter that is disgusted by her. Then there’s the always reliable Benicio Del Toro, playing Lado, a horrific enforcer. He brings his A-game, as usual, and grabs your attention with every tick and mannerism, making you fear what he’s going to do next even if you can predict it.
Savages can be taken as a reminder that Oliver Stone still has something left in the tank, fueling the hope that one day he may get back into form.
The three main leads, Aaron Johnson, Taylor Kitsch and Blake Lively, are boring. There’s no real opportunity for the audience to become invested in the three main characters because they’re not that interesting and the simply feel false. Blake Lively plays a dumb blonde, and almost everything she says makes you want to cringe. On top of that, Lively does the narration for the film so if you weren’t annoyed with her character already, the narration should do the trick.
The script wasn’t anything to brag about either. It was plain messy, and there’s nothing real to care about in the plot. I suppose it’s interesting to have a love trio that’s mutual, but there’s no weight to it and the actors aren’t convincing enough to sell it. The ending is also terrible, as Stone utilizes a false ending quite horribly. Overall, the film has it’s moments, but by the end it just falls flat.
Natural Born Killers
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