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SAVAGES

A DISAPPOINTMENT FROM A ONCE-GREAT DIRECTOR

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By Jess Fenton
14th October 2012
In the 80s and 90s, Oliver Stone was the man who gave us ‘Wall Street’, ‘The Doors’, ‘JFK’ and ‘Natural Born Killers’. Since then he’s given the world more than a few forgettable (‘Alexander’) and slightly overlooked (‘W.’) films that has now led us to today’s ‘Savages’ - a film that should be overlooked and then forgotten... completely. Since it's based on a book of the same name, Stone can’t take all the blame for this pointless tale of drugs, territorial wars and two boys who like to share - a little too much.

Taylor Kitsch and Aaron Taylor-Johnson play Chon and Ben, two best friends who’ve developed, botanically speaking, the perfect strain of marijuana. Along with their girlfriend O (Blake Lively) - yes, she’s both of their girlfriend - they run the most sought-after and peaceful drug operation in North America. That is, until a Mexican drug cartel run by Elena (Salma Hayek) and her psycho (with a cheeky edge) side-kick Lado (Benicio Del Toro) decide they want in. When a changing government threatens Elena’s livelihood in Mexico she sets her sights north - in particular, Chon and Ben’s business. When the boys reject the partnership, the cartel kidnap O and things begin to go downhill fast as the boys go to new and unexpected lengths to get her back.

SAVAGES - TRAILER B

Stone, a once highly revered director, has never shied away from the unpleasant, the hardcore and political topics, so why oh why has he made ‘Savages’? While filled with gratuitous, sadistic violence in the name of a territorial drug war, the drug in question is marijuana. Come on! The most readily available drug in existence and we’re watching people get decapitated for it - I don’t think so. The film is also set in California, a state constantly on the fence and debated about en mass as to marijuana's legalization - a point that is even made in the film, making it all the more ridiculous. Why would a major drug cartel move north to a place where they run the very real risk of become superfluous in the near future?

The characters are convoluted and there actions are confusing to say the least. All cast members' performances are adequate, as it’s hard to define any real standouts within a messy story and poor characterisation. Stone’s fans deserve better, as does Stone himself. What he tries to make edgy in this film comes off as strained, superficial, cliché and utterly pointless. We eagerly await his return to form.

Overlook the whole drug and gang war issue, and this film is a beautiful 131 minute tourism commercial from Laguna Beach, southern California - and that’s about it.

FAST FACTS
RELEASE DATE: 18/10/2012
RUN TIME: 2h 11m
CAST: Taylor Kitsch
Aaron Taylor-johnson
Blake Lively
John Travolta
Uma Thurman
Benicio Del Toro
Salma Hayek
Emile Hirsch
Demián Bichir
Mía Maestro
DIRECTOR: Oliver Stone
WRITERS: Don Winslow
Shane Salemo
PRODUCERS: Moritz Borman
Eric Kopeloff
Evan Bates
SCORE: Budd Carr
www.savagesmovie.com.au
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