Jul 11, 2012


Grade: C

Director: Oliver Stone (Wall Street)

Screenplay: Shane Salerno (Shaft), Don Winslow (Full Ride) from the Winslow novel.

Cast: Blake Lively (The Town), Taylor Kitsch (John Carter)

Rating: R

Runtime: 130 min.

John DeSando, WCBE’s “It’s Movie Time,” “Cinema Classics”

“They must love each other more than you, otherwise how could they share you.”Elena  (Salma Hyek to O about Ben and Chon)

With a small debt to Traffic’s daughter-in-trouble and drug motifs, Savages reduces the drug wars on both sides of the Mexican border to appropriate bloodshed and sarcasm to make it both serious and humorous. Never let it be said that director Oliver Stone couldn’t have attitude and brutality in equal measure.

Chon (Taylor Kitsch) and Ben (Aaron Johnson) amicably share the favors of O (Blake Lively), a delectable blonde symbol of America and erotica. They also grow primo weed, mostly for medical consumption until Baja Cartel head, Elena (Salma Hyek), and her thugs want to partner to produce this pure stuff for the masses.

Unlike most of Stone’s politically-oriented films (e.g., JFK), Savages has little controversial about it, for most of us would agree the drug war in Mexico and the US is despicable.  In that regard, Stone has set ups that encourage disgust of violence, such as the opening montage of decapitation.

Dan Mindel’s cinematography is gorgeous, especially when the violence is most abhorrent.  His beach scenes are pure lyricism if you can divorce them from the obvious metaphoric contrast to the violence.

Beyond that, it’s hard to say what Stone wants to convey other than that there are too few characters on either side who are not savages.

John DeSando co-hosts WCBE 90.5’s It's Movie Time and Cinema Classics, which can be heard streaming and on demand at

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