A new movie by Oliver Stone is still met with enthusiasm by those who love a good movie. Even though he has made his fair share of crap (Alexander and Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps) there are still people who love that crap and even more who love his more broadly loved films.
Savages is his latest and has a cast which is of the same hit or miss quality that John Travolta his career is. Salma Hayek plays Elena, a drug lord who plans on taking over the business of Ben (Aaron Taylor-Johnson of Kick-Ass fame) and Chon (Taylor Kitsch of ehm ‘John Carter’ hateclubs?)
To do so, she calls upon the help of a hitman called Lado (Benicio Del Toro) and his gang of thugs. She forces the guys to cooperate by kidnapping their gorgeous girlfriend Ophelia,referred to as O for most of the movie, played by the lovely Blake Lively.
To round things off we have John Travolta walking around as a corrupt DEA cop who is involved with both parties.
And basically, not that I want to compliment myself, that’s the entire ‘complicated plot’ of the movie.
Savages felt forced to me, in every single way. It’s not a bad movie, but it’s not good either.
Let’s look at the bright side first: Benicio Del Toro delivers a great role as Lado, the ice-cold hitman who shows absolutely no emotion whatsoever in the entire movie.
The rest of the cast has it’s moments and it’s failures as well, Salma Hayek never convinces as a real threat since she shows the captive Ophelia her soft side almost every 5 minutes, and her emotions felt forced, whether she was angry or sad. It’s the first sign of a very uneven script that continues throughout.
The main focus lies on Ben and Chon who both feel one dimensional and it’s a tough feat to try and be genuinely interested in how it all turns out when they both come across so hollow.
It’s more fun watching Lado taking people out then hoping for them to make it through.
That feeling remains largely throughout, the movie lacks pace as well as direction and it comes across as if Oliver Stone was trying to copy Quentin Tarantino with the weird soundtrack and quick cuts.
But where Tarantino has made an art out of dialogue that leads to nowhere and that distinct visual style, Oliver Stone looks like he’s seen his own Natural Born Killers one time too many and decided to blend it with Tarantino’s oeuvre of movies.
The story bounces back and forth between the two parties, trying to make it more complicated then it actually is and ends up giving you that feeling of ‘will we ever reach a good conclusion?’
Even the interference of John Travolta, who has an infinite ‘get out of moviejail free’ card it seems, only slows the movie down and even leads to one of the more cringeworthy ‘twists’ of the movie.
By the time the credits roll, you don’t care if they lived or died and you certainly don’t ever want to watch it again. Even though there’s a great visual style and lot’s of little great moments that inhabit ‘Savages’, don’t be tricked by its glamorous trailer and ‘complicated’ story pitch.
One final tidbit: even though Blake Lively is hot as hell, whoever decided to let her do the voiceover should be shot and killed, and we should add the poster artist to that list as well.
If your movie poster is a sign of things to come, the fact that it so blatantly ripped off Babel to the point that even the lettering is the same, we shouldn’t be excited.