Savages (BLU-RAY)


On Blu-Ray: 
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Running Time: 
2 Hours, 10 Minutes

"Savages" is Oliver Stone's 19th feature film.

Oliver Stone is never one to shy away from controversy, especially when it comes to war and politics.  His latest film however, is a departure of sorts and returns Stone to where he excels - directing subjects of a dark nature.  Based on the novel by Don Winslow of the same name "Savages" revolves around the lives of Chon (Taylor Kitsch), Ben (Aaron Johnson), and the girlfriend they share - O (Blake Lively).  Chon and Ben have been close friends since high school and now run a booming marijuana business in Laguna Beach, California.  As a former Navy SEAL, Chon has access to the best marijuana seeds in Afghanistan which Ben then cultivates in their grow house courtesy of his botany major from Berkeley.  Business runs smoothly until a Baja cartel demands a piece of the action.  Cartel boss Elena (Salma Hayek) dispatches her goons led by enforcer Lado (Benicio Del Toro) and kidnaps O, forcing Chon and Ben to take matters into their own hands.

Like the majority of Stone’s work, “Savages” holds your attention.  Colors, as well as the violence, are vivid and captivating.  Clocking in at just over two hours the film never drags or becomes a bore.  One of my major criticisms is the narration of the film by O that comes across corny at times (try not to laugh when she utters the word wargasm) and seems like a lazy way to get across some of the background story to audiences.  As an example, the early sex scenes are used to introduce Chon and Ben and describe their personas.  I argue that the audience probably would have better connected with the characters had we seen them conducting their day-to-day operations instead of just hearing about it from O.  Another fatal flaw is the ending which differs greatly from the novel.  I’m not going to spoil the finale for readers, but the ending is baffling and makes you wonder what possessed Stone to go in that direction.  The highlight of “Savages” is Del Toro’s performance as the slimy enforcer Lado – a man incapable of remorse.  Cinema hasn’t seen such a vile character in a number of years.  John Travolta also shines with a small role as a smarmy DEA agent.

Special features are scarce, but Oliver Stone fans will enjoy them.  The 5-part “Making Of” vignettes give viewers a glimpse into Stone’s relationship with his actors and his use of consultants on his films.  Stone provides a commentary track with never-ending tidbits of information including Del Toro’s influence on many aspects of the story and why the ending differs from the novel.  The deleted scenes are an absolute waste and add nothing to the experience.  Stone mentions an early version of the film lasting around three hours, so it wouldn’t shock me to see a director’s cut released in the future.  Oliver Stone junkies and fans of the novel should probably go ahead and make a purchase.  For everyone else, a rental is recommended. 

Cody Endres
Review by Cody Endres
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