Friday, July 6, 2012


Carole Mallory


Review: Savages -- Oliver Stone's Ode to Mary Jane

Posted: 07/06/2012 2:17 pm

Oliver Stone's Savages is about Stone's plea to legalize marijuana. It is based on a novel by Don Winslow while Its screen play is by Shane Salerno, Don Winslow and of course, Stone who also directs. In the opening sequence a ménage a tois tries to relate with a little help of Mary Jane. Ben (Aaron Johnson), Chon (Taylor Kitsch) and Ophelia (Blake Lively) kick back as only drug entrepreneurs can do in sunny California. They have a solid relationship until the Mexican Baja Cartel headed by Elena (Salma Hayeck) with her enforcer Lado (Benico del Toro) want in on the quality stash. The Mexicans are producing Wal-Mart quality stuff while Ben, a peace-loving soul, and Chon, a former Navy SEAL, are raising some truly fine weed and Elena needs the skill of Ben and Chon. A bogus deal is struck, but one not meant to be held by either side.
To enforce the deal, Ophelia or 'O,' is kidnapped and held hostage by Elena, Lado and the cartel. At one point she is drugged by Lado and sexually violated then filmed without her knowledge. When negotiations are underway for the release of O, she is shown the video by Lado. Here the plot loses credibility for such a free-spirited sprite as O feigns to be horrified by what Lado has done to her. She is hardly the Virgin Mary and as established in the beginning of the film likes sex kinky and stoned. Oh well, welcome to Hollywood.
Eventually our boys Ben and Chon find out that Elena has brought O to one of her villas in where else? Southern California. And a plot to rescue O is hatched, but is she or isn't she?
A dirty DEA agent, Dennis, played with great gusto and style by John Travolta, rounds out the intrigue along with many bloody beatings, killings and, at times, I thought I was watching a Quentin Tarantino remake because of the black humor that is juxtaposed against the violence. The ending is scotch taped and while sturm and drang is a signature of Stone's films, this is no exception. The choirs of angelic voices sing loudly to punctuate emotion, but only serve to take the focus off the action. But a fun time was had watching good acting and a fast pace shoot 'em up if you can take the violence and blood in a nut shell surrounded by Savages. If you prefer milder fare, skip it, but if you can overlook the contrived ending, catch Savages before crowds of Stoned Stone fans form lines for his latest assault on our senses.

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