Taylor Kitsch has been having a rough year in Hollywood with two big budgeted box office bombs. First there was March’s John Carter which didn’t attract a strong audience, despite not being a bad film. The same can’t be said for May’s Battleship, which sunk faster than the Titanic. Can Oliver Stone’s Savages deliver the win Kitsch so desperately needs or is it another black mark on his theatrical resume?
Best friends Ben (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Chon (Kitsch) run the best marijuana business in all of the United States. With a degree in botany, Ben knows the ins and outs to growing the best plants around. War veteran Chon provides the muscle when necessary. Keeping both of them in check is Ophelia (Blake Lively) or simply O for short. Rather than have a fling with one of the guys and make the other one jealous, therefore putting the business in jeopardy, she goes ahead and loves both of them equally. As she likes to put it, Chon is good for having sex while Ben is good for making love. In the end, everybody wins and business is good.
So good in fact, that the Mexican drug cartel wants in, and we all know that whatever the Mexican mafia wants, the Mexican mafia gets. Led by Elena (Salma Hayek), the Baja Cartel ends up kidnapping O to convince Ben and Chon to give in to their demands. They, in turn, go on an adrenaline-fueled rampage to get her back.
Savages throws caution to the wind and features some truly savage moments. Decapitations, flaming bodies, and plenty of explosions make up for a decent amount of the action. Chon isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty when it comes to rescuing O. Ben, on the other hand, is much more reserved and methodical and would rather avoid death wherever possible. It manages to create an interesting dynamic between the two. Unfortunately, it never fully develops. Benicio del Toro should be lauded, however, because he puts on the most convincing display as Lado, Elena’s second in command. He’s disturbing, ruthless, and the pinnacle example of a savage.
The story is about as cheesy and ridiculous as they come. Blake Lively narrates the entire thing as if everything seen on screen wasn’t enough. The live commentary isn’t necessary and only makes the film all the more laughable. Thank you, but I don’t think audiences need to know that Chon has “wargasms.”
Oliver Stone attempts to revitalize the action genre with his own twists on the film but in the end, he only further complicates things. The ending in particular delivers one of the biggest WTF moments making you wish that Savages had been just another action flick with guns and explosions. But alas, Stone attempted to make it something more.
Savages’ action sequences deliver but ultimately the story falls flat. You’ll be bored by the second half, and for an action film, that’s no good. Stone tried to create something memorable, and while he succeeds, it’s for all the wrong reasons.
Follow me on Twitter @Majiesto