I've decided I'm not that big of an Oliver Stone fan. I liked JFK, thought i was interesting and well acted, and I liked Platoon. But both could have been alot better if Stone would of kept politics out of it. I like Platoon, but the anti-war message in that movie is overbearingly annoying. I think it would of fared alot better if they had focused just on the loss of innocence instead. I liked JFK, but its an extremely biased movie with attention payed only to one side.
Savages isn't really political. Its just phenomenally disappointing. I was looking forward to it, as much as i started to hate the trailer, but the trailer is a lie. It makes it out to be this balls to the wall action movie and its not, its kind of like what happened with Tarantino's Inglouirous Basterds, where the trailer makes it look like an action-packed extravaganza even though it isn't. But where Basterds is awesome, Savages just kinda..flops around like a dieing fish.
There isn't much to say about the plot so lets get it over with. Ben (Aaron Johnson) and Chon (Taylor Kitsch) are two friends who make pot. Really good pot apparently. They are both in love and sleep with O (Blake Lively). She is kidnapped so that Ben and Chon will work with the Cartel run by Elena (Salma Hayek) with her enforcer Lado (Benicio Del Toro). Ben and Chon, and later revealed Lado, are aided by FBI agent Dennis (John Travolta). Ben and Chon go to great lengths to get O back and they succeed living their days happily in Indoneshia (I think, doesn't really matter).
I really only wanna talk about the characters. Lets start with Ben. Ben is a hippie, that's really the best way to put it. but he isn't one of the lazy hippies who just sit around and smoke weed and complain. No, Ben tries his best to help. He goes to Africa to help kids there learn and put in wells and such. Hes a Buddhist and doesn't like violence, all around a pretty good guy for a drug manufacturer and dealer. Unlike alot of movies where once the action starts the previously violence hating protagonist goes along with it without a care, Ben can't stand violence. The first time someone is killed in front of him he has a breakdown and they have to pull over during their getaway because he has to puke. This doesn't change, all through the movie when there's violence Ben is appalled. I like that. It makes him seem like a real person and his reactions the grisly and horrible things happening around him seem like the reaction most people would have. Ben, unlike Chon, is also completely willing to get out of the drug game. He wants to try and make a cheap solar panel to help people without power get it. Aaron Johnson is a great actor and brings this character to life very well.
Chon is a thug. Again, best way to put it. He was in two tours in Afghanistan or Iraq, one of the two, doesn't really matter. And along the way somewhere he "lost his innocence", he is completely unfeeling when it comes to violence and has no problem hurting or killing others if it benefits him, Ben, or O. There isn't alot to say about him, he wants to stay in the drug game so him, Ben, and O can make more money. He is the reason i don't buy the love triangle thing with him sharing O with Ben. He is almost constantly angry and basically bleeds aggro. I have a hard time believing he wouldn't get jealous. I've only seen Taylor Kitsch in one other movie and that's John Carter, in both this and that he does a fine job and seems to be a promising young actor.
Elena runs the Cartel. Honestly, I think a movie could have been made about this character and it would of been much more interesting. She was married to the Cartel leader, and when he was assassinated she took over his duties, two over her sons were assassinated, and her other son hates her for taking away his power in the cartel. Her daughter wants nothing to do with her and she is surrounded by violent and power hungry men. That movie would have been much, much better than this one. Detailing her life and how she coped with the power and loss of pretty much every single person she loves. It helps that Salma Hayek is awesome and does a surprisingly great job and being threatening.
Lado was my favorite part, and Benicio Del Toro gives the best performance of the movie. A movie based on this character would of also been much better than Savages. Why is he so ok with the violent actions he takes? What made him this way? Was he born a sociopath or was he made into one? How does he know John Travolta and why are they so chummy? What's their story? That would of been a much more interesting movie.Throughout the entire movie Lado remains, calm and collected and is not only okay with doing horrifically violent things to people, enjoys it. Del Toro steals almost every scene he is in and demands attention in this role, hes threatening and calculating and could probably make a better Cartel leader than Elena.
You don't learn alot about Dennis. His wife is dieing of cancer, he has two kids, and works with both Lado and Ben and Chon. He has a very minor role, but Travolta does a good job with it.
O is the person I really want to talk about. O is short for Ophelia, named after the character form Shakespeare's Hamlet, and Hamlet being the only play by Shakespeare I actually genuinely like I had hoped Stone would do some clever metaphors with it, but no, he does not, the movie even points out that its a reference to Shakespeare , but nothing becomes of it. I hated this character. She is so annoying and almost pointless. She literally only serves to drive the two leads Ben and Chon. She is irritating and bratty, even demanding better conditions when being held prisoner by the cartel. I don't like Blake Lively in this movie, she isn't very good and her voice is like nails on a chalkboard, which sucks because she narrates a good portion of the movie. She does absolutely nothing worthwhile and contributes basically nothing in way of character development or arc. Unlike Ben and Chon where, even though I still think there would be jealousy, they seem to genuinely care and love O, I didn't buy her. She seems like that wishy washy girl who can't pick one guy, but instead of just giving up and picking one she somehow convinces both of them to sleep with her so she doesn't have to make any sort of hard decision. She's a spoiled brat who smokes weed because her parents don't care and she uses that as an excuse to be worthless. Salma Hayek even points out a one point that she hasn't thought of her future and probably won't be able to do anything if she doesn't go to college just because she doesn't feel comfortable in an "institution", seriously her words. She is useless, pointless, stupid, nothing becomes of her character, she learns nothing, and she is mind bogglingly annoying. They tease us with the whole "just because I'm narrating the story doesn't mean I'm alive" thing, and by the end of the movie you actively wish for her death. And they make you think she dies at one point, but no she doesn't that was a tease.
Despite how much I actually liked Ben and Chon and felt like they were close as brothers, I wouldn't of cared if they died. There's a tease ending before the real ending where Ben, Chon, and O die, and I was watching it and I realized...I didn't care, yeah I liked Ben and Chon, but not enough to care if they died.
Oliver Stones a good director, the movies shot well and there's a certain style to the action scenes that I liked, but the movie is paced horribly. And I mean terrible. Its written and directed like it's supposed to be fast paced and exciting, but it limps and clunks along at a dreadfully boring pace. Its 2 hours long and it drags for those two hours, my god does it drag.
Over all I didn't care for this movie, it's directed well enough, but paced dreadfully and the writing is not very good, it tries to be witty with metaphors, but they don't really work. The acting is good and I liked the lead characters, but not enough to where I cared if they lived or died. I hated the female lead and a good portion of the movie is spent on her. So, all and all this movie is a huge disappointment. I feel like there was a good movie here, I feel like if they had a different director and writer that this movie could have been much better, but alas this isn't so and in the end I would say pass.