Savages, Nationwide September 21, Cert: 16, Stars: 2 out of 5
Review by GARETH NAUGHTON
This is another fine mess that Oliver Stone has gotten himself into. A sprawling and often ridiculous take on the drug trade, it is let down by a weak storyline and a core cast who are inexperienced and out of their depth.
and out of their depth.
Peace-loving Buddhist (Aaron Johnson) and his angry former Navy Seal buddy Chon (Taylor Kitsch) run a money-spinning drug operation in California growing cannabis from seeds smuggled in from Afghanistan.
They do very well for themselves with the occasional help of corrupt FBI agent (John Travolta). They are also carrying on in a polygamous triad with Blake Lively’s Ophelia who claims to love them both for different reasons.
The boys come to the attention of Elena (Salma Hayek), the ruthless head of a Mexican drug cartel who finds herself under pressure from a change of regime at home so she looks north for new business.
When Ben and Chon (pronounced Sean despite the stupid spelling) initially knock Elena’s advances back, she gets her henchman Lado (Benicio del Toro) to kidnap Ophelia and all hell breaks loose as the two boys try to get her back.
This is a rather pointless endeavour. It is hard to know what Stone — a director known for making grandiose statements in his work — is trying to say or whether he is trying to say anything at all. Not that he is being subtle.
Savages is filled with overblown and brutal violence but it just feels like everyone is taking a beating for the sake of it. There’s nothing wrong with that in certain contexts and this film feels very much out of context.
Lively is basically playing a more outwardly debauched version of her Gossip Girl character, Serena van der Woodsen, and she knows it so she doesn’t bother doing anything remotely different.
It is the same irritating performance that she gives week in, week out on the television but this time you’re paying for it.
She has very little chemistry with either Kitsch or Johnson, neither of whom cover themselves in glory with this one.
The only one who emerges with their dignity genuinely intact is Hayek. Always watchable, she is absolutely the best thing about Savages but, frankly, she is not worth the ticket price in itself.