MOVIE REVIEW: SAVAGES (2012)Posted: January 5, 2013
Running time: 2 hours, 11 minutes
Cast: Taylor Kitsch, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Blake Lively, John Travolta, Benicio del Toro, Salma Hayek
Director: Oliver Stone
When I heard the name ‘Oliver Stone’ and the words ‘ensemble cast’ I was pretty excited. Then I noticed the movie stars Taylor Kitsch, who wasn’t having a good year at the box office with his flops John Carter and Battleship. Then I noticed Blake Lively, who hasn’t done anything spectacular in her career, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson whose biggest role to date was the titular character in Kick-Ass. The veteran actors (Travolta, del Toro, Hayek) have supporting roles and I wonder if that was a mistake.
In Savages, Ben (Taylor-Johnson) and Chon (Kitsch) live a lavish lifestyle thanks to the awesome weed that they grow. They share a live-in girlfriend named O (Lively) which I found to be bizarre and it doesn’t have any sort of impact on the storyline. It does allow Lively to film two sex scenes at the beginning of the movie though.
Life is going well until Ben and Chon are approached by a Mexican cartel, and the twosome are offered a partnership deal. Actually, the cartel wasn’t asking to be partners- they were making a demand. Lado (del Toro) is a cartel enforcer and he’s in charge of doing whatever it takes to ‘convince’ the guys to take the deal. Hayek plays ‘Elena’, the cartel leader, and Travolta appears as ‘Dennis’, a corrupt DEA agent who tells the boys that taking the deal will keep them (and O) alive.
My thoughts: this movie is all over the place and the three main stars are so underwhelming that they become boring. Meanwhile, it seemed del Toro, Hayek and Travolta lit up the screen every time they appeared. They brought a lot of energy and intensity to the movie even though Travolta occasionally seemed too enthusiastic in his role. Also, I assume Stone wanted to do something different by having a female cartel leader, but at times Elena seemed so emotional and so weak that I couldn’t understand how she kept her power over the cartel.
I wish the threesome angle wasn’t in this movie, because having Lively play a damsel in distress was boring and typical. I think the movie would’ve been much more interesting if Chon were in distress, and then Ben and Dennis team up to save him. That would’ve allowed Travolta to be on screen more and give the movie a lift.
I’m not sure what this says for Kitsch’s career, which seemed to be a hot topic throughout 2012. As I mentioned earlier, he already had two flops under his belt before Savages was released, and I think going forward he might want to be more selective (if he can afford to do so). Yes, a lot of actors would love to work with Stone, but a young actor can’t string together a series of bad movies and still have a successful career with main roles.
If you’re in the mood for a good action movie you won’t find it here. Savages keeps attempting to build momentum and give you some knock-out moments, but this movie is like watching someone bike up a steep hill but they can’t quite get over the hump so they start rolling backwards. How disappointing!