Savages is a debauched, vicious ride

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Starring Blake Lively, Benicio Del Toro, and Taylor Kitsch. Rated 18A. Now playing

Some thoughts flit through the brain at the start of Oliver Stone’s nasty, wacked Savages. First: uh-oh, terrified, sweaty people are tied up and scary drug dealers are revving chainsaws. It looks like Scarface time. Second: is that an animal on Benicio Del Toro’s head? Boy, he’s got a lot of hair. Third: remember to never hire a guy who looks like Benicio to do yard work. Psychopaths make terrible gardeners.

It’s not Scarface (which, yeah, Stone wrote), but Savages is the Oliver of yore: the guy who likes it as debauched, vicious, and loco as we do. (Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps scared us there, didn’t it?) Luckily, Stone found Don Winslow’s novel Savages and made a movie in which none of the Californians, apparently, remember the Scarface line, “Never get high on your own supply.”

Ex–navy SEAL Chon (Taylor Kitsch) and Buddhist Ben (Aaron Johnson) sell the planet’s best weed. They live in Laguna Beach and share a blond named Ophelia, aka O (Blake Lively). There’s mucho sex and chronic. How did these dudes ever become millionaires? A frightening Mexican drug-cartel boss, Elena (Salma Hayek), spoils things by having her henchmen (Del Toro and Demián Bichir) kidnap O. O, no.

Except, no, it’s pretty great. Nutso Mexican drug traffickers into torture and beheadings are more fun than Orange County potheads. Drop in John Travolta as a corrupt DEA agent—is there another kind?—and the pro adult actors trump the baby stoners in Stone’s effed-up, tequila-noir war flick that’s also a bit Sergio Leone and Quentin Tarantino.

The Mexican baddies call these gringos savages. But they think that people who snip off other folks’ fingers are the savages. Hmm. One likes O, who’s been high since, well, junior high, but…

“Do you people always talk this way?” Elena asks the blathering O. Why, yes. And when you’re holding them prisoner, they’d like a salad, please.


Watch the trailer for Savages.

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Graeme McRanor
Some interesting moments. But more painful ones thanks to Lively's obnoxious voice-over and some first-rate examples of cringe-worth writing. Also, easier for me to suspend disbelief when transforming robots invaded Earth than when two surfers from Laguna Beach took down a Mexican cartel. Benicio a saving grace. Ending unforgivable.
8
10
Rating: -2
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