HollywoodChicago.com RSS   Facebook   HollywoodChicago.com on Twitter   Free Giveaway E-mail   

Blu-ray Review: Oliver Stone’s Diverting ‘Savages’ Settles for Trashy Thrills

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly versionE-mail page to friendE-mail page to friendPDF versionPDF version
No votes yet

CHICAGO – Perhaps acknowledging that his status amongst Hollywood muckrakers has diminished in recent years, Oliver Stone follows up his toothless Bush biopic and needless “Wall Street” sequel with a wholly inconsequential yet thoroughly diverting little thriller. It’s pure trash that also happens to be Stone’s most compulsively watchable effort since 1995’s “Nixon.”

Taylor Kitsch and Aaron Johnson star as two young entrepreneurs in the marijuana business who are so close that they have no qualms with sharing the same woman, nicknamed “O” (Blake Lively). The script requires this plucky trio to liken themselves to Butch, Sundance and Etta Place while Stone continuously cuts to black and white, as if evoking the final chilling shot of George Roy Hill’s 1969 classic, which froze on the precise instant when the legendary outlaws passed from this world and into infamy.

HollywoodChicago.com Blu-ray Rating: 3.0/5.0
Blu-ray Rating: 3.0/5.0

Just like William Holden in “Sunset Boulevard,” O narrates the action from a sardonically cynical god’s eye perspective, though she refuses to reveal whether or not she winds up dead at the end of her story. Lively effortlessly embodies ethereal vulnerability as she dutifully portrays the plot’s prized damsel in distress. Too bad her loyal lovers are so hopelessly bland. Kitsch is like a would-be Paul Walker, while Johnson lacks the charisma necessary to stand toe-to-toe with the picture’s vast array of fearsome low-lives. Ruling the roost is Benicio del Toro at his scary-sleaziest as Lado, the cold-blooded enforcer of the Mexican Baja Cartel that orders Kitsch and Johnson to partner with them—or else. In a classic introductory scene, Lado arrives at the house of his latest victim while his henchmen pose as a yard cleaning crew. The noise of their mowers conveniently blot out the gunfire and screams emanating from inside. Later, Lado pays a similarly threatening visit to a corrupt DEA agent, well-played by John Travolta, whose motormouth skills assist in obscuring his utter lack of loyalty. It’s during a brief scene at the bed of his ailing wife that the agent delivers some of the film’s only pointed dialogue, observing that his methods of backstabbing are no different from those utilized on Wall Street or in Washington. The film’s final denouement also smarts with Stone’s trademark brand of jaded satire.

Savages was released on Blu-ray and DVD on November 13th, 2012.
Savages was released on Blu-ray and DVD on November 13th, 2012.
Photo credit: Universal Studios Home Entertainment

Once O is kidnapped by the cartel, she strikes up a cautious friendship with the ominous Baja ringleader (Salma Hayek), while Kitsch and Johnson do everything in their power to come to her rescue, and that includes killing a whole lot of people. Stone’s sequences of violence are reminiscent of “Natural Born Killers” in their unapologetic level of gruesomeness, particularly during the torture of a wronged Baja heavy played by Demián Bichir of “A Better Life.” Yet in America’s modern culture of desensitized youth, it’s unlikely that Stone’s work still delivers the jolt that it once did. Yet what it lacks in shock value it makes up for in pure kineticism. At a running time clocking in well over two hours, the picture doesn’t include a single dull moment. Stone may have lost his edge, but he certainly hasn’t lost his ability to entertain.

“Savages” is presented in 1080p High Definition (with a 2.40:1 aspect ratio), accompanied by English, Spanish and French audio tracks and includes Blu-ray, DVD, UltraViolet and digital copies of the film. Extras are highlighted by an unrated cut that adds 11 minutes, though few of them deepen the narrative in satisfying fashion. In one all-too-touchy-feely scene, Hayek confesses to Lively that she suffers from having “Botox in the heart.” Five behind-the-scenes featurettes illustrate the postmodern style of the film’s source material, co-screenwriter Don Winslow’s original book, which included passages written in the format of a screenplay. Best of all is Stone’s commentary track, where he admits that he related to Kitsch and Johnson’s characters as they waged war with a major corporation while “exercising their defiance.” If there’s one thing that’s inarguable about Stone, it’s his dislike of being told what to do.

‘Savages’ is released by Universal Studios Home Entertainment and stars Blake Lively, Taylor Kitsch, Aaron Johnson, Benicio Del Toro, Salma Hayek, John Travolta, Demián Bichir and Emile Hirsch. It was written by Shane Salerno, Don Winslow and Oliver Stone and directed by Oliver Stone. It was released on November 13th, 2012. The theatrical cut is rated R.

HollywoodChicago.com staff writer Matt Fagerholm

By MATT FAGERHOLM
Staff Writer
HollywoodChicago.com
matt@hollywoodchicago.com

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent spam submissions.
Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.

Hot stories on the Web


User Login

Free Giveaway Mailing

TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Happy Christmas

    CHICAGO – “Drinking Buddies” director Joe Swanberg’s latest release of the same star wattage is “Happy Christmas,” an even lower-fi story than the Olivia Wilde beer comedy, steered even more by the casting that it was able to assemble. However, with this movie Swanberg doesn’t so much worry about having a story that could be confused with a more mainstream romantic comedy if it were to have a bigger budget.

  • reno 911 front.png

    CHICAGO – The oughts was the era of the workplace mock-doc comedy, with shows like “The Office” and “Reno 911!” born into a time where TV viewers were excited to see see fake realities about the crumminess of a job. While this series has been available in separate season collections previously, “Reno 911!” is now available in a complete series set, one that boasts a grand amount of special features content in spite of some lacking comedy in the actual show.

Advertisement


HollywoodChicago.com on Twitter

archive

HollywoodChicago.com Top Ten Discussions
tracker