29 May 2014

Beautiful, Savages

What follows is an attempt at a simple movie review capped at about 300 words, which is hard for me as I am in love with my own words. I am in talks to start writing a weekly feature column on movies for my local newspaper, so I am practicing.

Taylor Kitsch, Blake Lively, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson in Oliver Stone's Savages.

by Kevin Powers

Oliver Stone is a hit-and-miss director. His last movie was the 2008 George W. Bush biopic W. It was pretty good, but only in its controversy. Stone is most famous for his realistic Vietnam epic Platoon, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1986. His latest outing, 2012’s Savages, is a different kind of movie for Mr. Stone. And that much I appreciate.

Savages is a violent, sexually-charged crime drama about a duo of California pot-growers, who happen to have “the best cannabis in the world.” This is what our narrator O (Blake Lively) tells us early on. The pot-dealing duo is the hotheaded former Marine Chon (Taylor Kitsch, TV’s Friday Night Lights) and the free-spirited, Zen master Ben (Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Godzilla). They love their business and each other and their woman, the lovely blond O.

When a Mexican drug cartel, led by the evil Elena (Salma Hayek) and enforced by the equally evil and crazy Lado (Benicio Del Toro), wants in on the product and are denied, all turns to bloody action-violence. That is pretty much all there is in the way of plot: an open love-triangle of young, beautiful beach people run-in with some bad, bad people and the stuff hits the fan.

Oliver Stone is a technically sound filmmaker. His camera is constantly moving creating a frantic, fast pace. Savages is alive and vibrant in its bright ocean blues and white sands as well as its blood-red soaked Mexican deserts. This is a dark movie in a bright, sunny world. The violence is sometimes over-the-top and certainly not for everybody, but if you’re looking for a fun ride through the crime-riddled, present-day West, then I fully recommend it for a late Saturday night piece of entertainment.

Reviewer’s Note: Oliver Stone’s Savages is now available on DVD and Blu-ray. It deserves every bit of its R-rating and is certainly an adults-only title.

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