Savages Movie Review: Sex, Drugs And Shopping

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Possibly an unintended sequel to the recession-driven Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, Oliver Stone’s Savages takes on what could be his take surrounding the underground economy financial crisis instead this time around. And Stone’s just north when not south of the border bilingual left coast drug thriller, is steeped in a new and different fantasy laden spin on more typical down & dirty crime syndicate tabloid sensationalism.

blake

All this, while more than begging the question, and then some: How would any ordinary person, for instance inhabiting the audience for this movie, go toe to toe with terrifying Mexican druglords, and somehow outrageously prevail. Not to mention in the midst of a wish fulfillment blockbuster action thriller, awkwardly shoehorned into free-spirit arthouse fare.

Maneuvering to keep the lid from totally popping off his brand of extreme storytelling, Stone shrewdly provides from the get-go what else, that useful, shifting the blame game voiceover gimmick known as the unreliable narrator. Which means that Blake Lively as combo Laguna Beach aimless upper crust pleasure princess and fickle Savages designated tour guide, gets to have her very own boy toy harem, max out her absentee rich mom’s credit cards at the local mall, and simultaneously take the hits for Stone regarding any ludicrous plot points.

Lively, as the chronically inebriated on controlled substances “O,” seems to have lucked into a strangely compatible lust triangle with a set of unusually high grade California pot producer/distrbutor hunks. Counting crazed deployment-happy combat soldier and borderline psycho weed enterprise enforcer Chon (Taylor Kitsch), and college boy mad genius botanist Ben (Aaron Johnson).

Meanwhile, a daily regimen of sex, smokes and shopping continues relatively undisturbed in intoxicated unwedded bliss among this upscale threesome, save for occasional payoffs to an annoying DEA official (John Travolta). Until, at least according to Stone, the recession kicks in. At which point a vicious Mexican cartel headed by cartoonish dragon lady druglord widow Elena (Salma Hayek) crosses the border to stage a sort of multinational hostile takeover of the thriving gringo enterprise. And, as heads literally roll off assorted victims via hi-tech Internet decapitations, gleefully orchestrated by Elena’s ferocious head villain hitman Lado(Benicio Del Toro) – who favors consuming his dinner steak with a switchblade.

This intermittently tense cat and mouse, ruthlessly giddy caper among two sets of felonious haves and have mores, may be said to feature a sidebar crime as well. Namely, Stone’s seeming failure to ‘get’ women as characters. In this case, ranging from Lively’s airhead dumb blonde diva, to Hayek’s ditzy telanovella movietoon shrew.

Universal Pictures

Rated R

2 stars

To see the trailer of Savages:

Prairie Miller is a New York multimedia journalist online, in print and radio, who reviews movies and conducts in-depth interviews. She can also be heard on WBAI/Pacifica National Radio Network’s Arts Express.