Savages unwinds with a vengeance. Certainly it’s easy to compare the newest Oliver Stone film with his early benchmarks (like penning Scarface) or Stone’s more neo-nourish efforts like U-Turn. Savages, it turns out, is its own unique stash of godweed.
The economics of multi-million dollar pot operations are under the scope Wall Street style. Only the chief execs on the American side don’t wear suits but rather display surf chic and pectoral buff (Aaron Johnson and Taylor Kitsch). These two guys run a massive biz that includes growers, distributors and computer analysts. Johnson formulates THC levels that are in the red; Kitsch enforces those who get out of line with his own brand of military madness. These dudes are spiritual but it’s the kind of spirituality you’d get if you partnered peaceful Buddha and his watchdog Kali the Destroyer. Blake Lively plays the femme.
The Baja Cartel wants to shift from their schwag level weed to the good stuff so they make a merger proposal in no uncertain terms. The Baja reps do wear suits and have access to the latest weaponry and internet speed. Excellent baddie perfs are delivered by Salma Hayek, Benicio Del Toro and Damian Bichir all of whom display less and less remorse for Savages’ escalating terror. Toss in John Travolta as a DEA agent who cuts both ways and mix with violence so tense you have to wait to breathe to admire its cinematic beauty. Personally I can handle scenes where eyeballs pop out or brains are blown out of the back of skulls. I can also handle films that have people wearing Mexican wrestler masks decorated Day of the Dead style.
Savages plays hardball never letting up its guard for a laugh line or stopping to admire the scenery, although the landscapes are extraordinary on their own. Savages is Stone working at his peak, moderating between sex and violence while illustrating the politics of corruption.
– Michael Bergeron