7 Mar



Director: Oliver Stone

Writers: Shane Salerno (screenplay), Don Winslow (screenplay)

Stars: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Taylor Kitsch, Blake Lively

Motion Picture Rating: R

Runtime: 131 minutes



18 months ago Taylor Kitsch was the next big thing. He was going to be huge. 2012 was all about him and his lead roles in 3 very high profile films; Disney’s sci-fi John Carter, the Rihanna debuting blockbuster Battleship and Oliver Stone’s next film Savages. Those 3 releases lost more than $300 million between them at the box office. Not such a banner year for young Kitsch. In regard to Savages, I find it hard to believe that such an awful film had anything but a horrible script. Taylor should really have seen this one coming.

Kitsch plays Chon to Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s Ben. They are Laguna Beach best buddies and successful growers and distributors of high quality marijuana. Their house above the beach is shared with girlfriend Ophelia (played by Blake Lively). She is in love with both of them and they seem more than happy to share her affections. In a cringe-worthy voiceover she describes her men as a Buddhist (Ben) and a baddist (Chon). Yes, that’s the quality of the script. In the same voiceover she labels her and Iraqi vet Chon’s sex as delivering wargasms.

Savages was adapted by the author Don Winslow from his own book. I have read a Winslow book, The Dawn Patrol, and it was great. The book Savages is probably good too, but this film is a mess. At no point from start to finish is anything remotely real. The 3-way sexual relationship is false. Best friends Ben and Chon have nothing in common. Their highly professional, open and thriving pot business makes no sense. The Mexican baddies that try and take it over are caricatures with a gloriously miss-cast Salma Hayek as their boss.

As well as a nonsense plot, the camera work and production design only add to the artifice. Scenes are split, montages are used, kooky graphics overlaid and strange camera angles applied. At times it has a cartoon feel to it, but that feel only clashes with scenes of torture, domestic violence and drug taking. It really is a mess and it runs for a tiresome 131 minutes.

It is likely that Savages wants to comment on the war on drugs and on the great distance between close neighbours Mexico and the USA. Towards the end there is also an odd speech by an FBI agent about the USA being “a nation of whores” . That extraneous scene reeks of director Oliver Stone and his heavy touch is felt too often. My notes on this film concluded with the description ‘fat, lazy and arrogant’ which was meant for the film, but could as easily be thrown at the director.

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