Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Savages ★ ★ ★ ½

Release Dates

Australia:  18th October, 2012; USA DVD release 23rd October
Other Countries: Release Dates

Don Winslow's audacious 2010 novel, "Savages" must be a page turner, if the film is anything to go by.  Whilst Three-time Oscar®-winning filmmaker OLIVER STONE (Platoon, Wall Street, Born on the Fourth of July, W.), famous for his idiosyncratic characters and ability to ‘savage’ performances from his actors, doesn’t always get it right in his latest offering, he does get it there enough to make an entertaining film.
Be warned, “Savages” is a reasonably apt description for where these characters fall on the scale of likable, including the unsympathetic leads.  Although Benicia Del Toro’s Lado, who is the nastiest and least redeemable character, is a highlight.  John Travolta also is magic onscreen reminding us he has the acting chops to carry a heavy weight bad-ass persona.
Narrated by ‘O’ (short for Ophelia) (Blake Lively) who is one lucky girl, she has two gorgeous men in love with her Ben (Aaron Johnson) and Chon (Taylor Kitsch).  They lead an idyllic life living in luxury on Laguna Beach funded by Ben and Chon’s hugely successful dope business.
When the Mexican Baja Cartel, run by Elena, (Salma Hayek) decide they want in on this successful independent business they force the reluctant boys to join them by kidnapping their love, O.  These are brutal people, who inflict their will by such charming disciplinarian measures as decapitation by chainsaw, whipping and burning, or sending the gardening crew around, headed by Elena’s enforcer Lado, to have a little talk. These talks usually end in torture and death.
Ben and Chon must find a way to recover O without alerting Elena that they are not in compliance with her idea of their new partnership.  Chon who is ex-Afghanistan Navy Seal, commands a mini-army of ex-veterans, who somehow have managed to get hold of mines, and all manner of weaponry to wage a cat and mouse war with Elena.   They make good use quite brutally of the dirty DEA agent (John Travolta), who provides some real comic relief.
All of the characters, including the supposedly good guys, Ben, Chon and O begin as morally bankrupt but as the story progresses Stone asks us to find an understanding of the degrees of morality.  You will enjoy this out-of-control ride if you are prepared to accept those degrees. 


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