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December 10, 2012

Savages Movie poster




There are no good guys in Savages. There are drug dealers, murderers and corrupt agents. They all have an angle which will get them killed, imprisoned or kidnapped. Savages tries to fit in with the recent explosion of bad guys carrying shows but it has a major flaw. Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones and Sons of Anarchy are all ratings blockbusters with shady characters that people love. In fact, beloved movies like The Godfather, Scarface, Goodfellas and Casino are revered by practically everyone. Anti-heroes, sociopaths and killers have all had their moments to shine in cinema and television. The difference between these shows and the film adaptation of Savages is that the characters are likable and relatable. They may be bad but you understand how they got there.  The biggest problem with Savages is that there is zero reason to support any of the characters so you are stuck watching stylized violence explode in trippy Oliver Stone ways.

Savages mask




Here is the set up. Blake Lively has been kidnapped by a menacing Benicio Del Toro. She has a bed and television privileges  The Mexican cartel has been known to chop off heads and torture their captives. Is Blake Lively worried about rape, torture or death? Nope. She is complaining that she has to eat pizza. She asks “can I get a salad?” Savages is a film about rich Californians who sell marijuana, share girlfriends and hate pizza.

Savages Blake Lively




How did Lively get caught? She had to go shopping before she fled with her two boyfriends. Along the way her guard is killed while she is getting deals on Versace. I get that the film is about the rich drug dealing counter culture. However, there are ways to make them interesting. Showtime  made a serial killer intriguing in Dexter because he has a code and works for the police. The characters in the film don’t go past two dimensional. Aaron Johnson is peaceful, Taylor Kitsch is a killer and Lively is mellow. However, there is nothing about the three characters that makes you care. This is a shame because they’ve all done very good work (Kick-Ass, Friday Night Lights, The Town).

Is the movie bad? Nope. Good? Nope. It exists in front of your eyes then is over. The movie is bloody, brutal and features John Travolta with dyed eyebrows. Oliver Stone has been long known for his memorable films like Platoon, NBK, Wall Street, JFK and Born on the Fourth of July. Those movies were angry pieces of work that covered war, greed and corruption. His latest forays into film have focused on people putting themselves into bad situations (Wallstreet 2) instead of being thrust into them (Platoon). This makes the characters infinitely less interesting. The reasons for all the problems are greed and want. The moral of the story is if the Mexican mafia sends you a tape of decapitated heads then requests a partnership you better not turn it down.

Savages Benecio Del Toro




Savages is wildly uneven and introduces the word “wargasm.” There is zero excitement and many questions about Del Toro’s wig. It seems like Oliver Stone is trying to go back to his Natural Born Killer days of crazy editing, ultra violence and over the top acting. The problem is that the actors play it too safe and Stone seems to think by going back to his roots everything will be good again.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. johnleavengood permalink
    December 16, 2012 2:04 pm

    And with this rave review, I’ll wait for HBO to witness the birth of “wargasm.”
    Too bad.

  2. johnleavengood permalink
    August 3, 2013 12:47 pm

    Okay. So I’m watching this on HBO as we speak and I can comfortably say that I have no idea why this movie was even made.


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