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Savages Theatrical ReviewJohn Delia
The movie centers on best friends Ben (Aaron Johnson) and Chon (Taylor Kitsch) who have made a business with a special strain of marijuana that delivers a better high than anything on the market. Supplying several legitimate businesses and many illegal, the pair has built themselves a pretty life for themselves. Joined by their playful gorgeous partner Ophelia (Blake Lively), the threesome feel they're on top of the world. When a Mexican cartel gets wind of the growing business that has cut into their drug trafficking, a war of nerves and violence begins.
The film takes many twists and turns on it's way to confrontations that are tense and vicious. From the opening scene that's bloody and horrifying to a surprise closing the film moves along at a fast clip, slowing only to build characters and enhance the plot.
Although it's not extreme, the three-way love story gets edgy emoting a strong chemistry between Lively, Kitsch and Johnson with her in the arms of both men. The trio has very different personalities from super botanist Ben who wants ‘peace and love', Chon's dark ex-mercenary attitude to Ophelia's drug induced free spirit. When they come face to face with Lado (Del Toro) a crazed brute that kills without conscience and Elena (Hayek) a power mad drug lord who has no sympathy for anyone who gets in her way, the three have to snap into bloody reality.
Savages makes it's case with some awesome performances by several actors in the cast including Taylor Kitsch, Benicio Del Toro and John Travolta. The three actors dominate the screen with powerful characters that are brazen, merciless and brutal. Kitsch creates a strong character with an unyielding sense of control that when he faces Del Toro's Lado things get very vicious. Del Toro fashions his Lado into an unpredictable killer who stops at nothing to bring his opposition down. But the crafty DEA agent Dennis played by Travolta steals the show playing both sides in a tricky game that can get him killed if he slips while walking a very thin line between the two drug factions.
Oliver Stone takes his direction of Savages to a new level of excitement that his previous films have seldom reached. Digging into the crevices of a Mexican cartel's influence on America though this fictional account of drug wars caused by ventures who fight for the cream of an out of control illegal business, he brings forth a stirring production. While Stone has been lauded for his work on touchy docudramas like JFK, Nixon and W here he steps aside to take a look at a real burning subject, ‘the war on drugs,' that has nearly died in the United States. His sharp-edged ability to take reality and present it fictionally to get his point across shows in Savages that he has no equal in that department.
Savages has been rated R by the MPAA for strong brutal and grisly violence, some graphic sexuality, nudity, drug use and language throughout. The film may be a little over the top for the meek and timid.
FINAL ANALYSIS: A violent heart pounding drama that hits ‘home'. (B)
-- John Delia
Cast: Taylor Kitsch, Aaron Johnson, Salma Hayek, Benicio Del Toro, Blake Lively
Directed by: Oliver Stone
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 131 minutes
Distributed by: Universal Studios
For more information about Savages visit the FlickDirect Movie Database. Artwork and photos ©Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved.
John Delia has been on all sides of the movie business from publications to film making, publicist to Assistant Director. He has been a film critic for 12 years and earned a Bachelors degree in communications from the University of Florida. He is listed in IMDb under his name JOHN DELIA. He free lances for a number of web magazines including FlickDirect. He is located in Florida in the Tampa Area. His interview with Benicio Del Toro received nearly 13,000 hits on youtube when Che opened and the interview with the unknown Bradley Cooper nearly 14,000 when The Hangover opened.He enjoys movie music, especially those from most Disney animated features.
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