Thursday, August 2, 2012
Movie Review: Savages (2012)
Oliver Stone opens the taps of violence and gore and wades knee deep into the world of drug turf wars. Savages is stark, vivid, and occasionally beautiful in its brutality, but ultimately falls in the gap between where insufficient wit meets extreme violence.
When the negotiations fail, Elena's cartel kidnaps O to force Chon and Ben to cooperate. As O endures torture and confinement by Lado and his fellow brutes, Chon and Ben turn to their protector for help, a corrupt Drugs Enforcement Administration agent named Dennis (John Travolta). He provides them with enough information to expose weaknesses in Elena's empire, including revealing the locations of safe houses used as money collection and transfer points. With all sides getting desperate, Elena's daughter Magda (Sandra Echeverria) is also placed at risk as a showdown looms.
Most engaging is Blake Lively, television's Gossip Girl building her big screen reputation, narrating the movie and proving to be not only the common point in a sizzling sexual threesome, but also the fulcrum of the larger battle between Elena, Ben and Chon. A disruptive prisoner, O is enough of a nuisance to earn an audience with Elena, a savory encounter in which each woman expresses condescending pity towards the other.
Stone tackles the violence of drug crime head-on, and throws it all on the screen. Mass decapitations, torture, setting victims ablaze, explosions and routine shootings litter Savages, creating a world where lives are cheaper than drugs. It may be slightly over the top in a California context, but Stone is certainly true to the stream of headlines chronicling the endless atrocities in Mexico.
Between the sex, the blood, the corruption and the rival criminals calling each other savages for vastly different reasons, Savages always maintains interest. Despite the chopping of heads, the movie just lacks a cutting edge to push it towards the hyper stylized world it seeks to occupy.
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