There aren’t many movies that I find myself actively rooting for the bad guys. Savages was one of those movies. To be fair, there aren’t really any good guys in Savages, a film directed by Oliver Stone and based on a novel by Don Winslow. It stars an ensemble cast including Blake LivelyTaylor Kitsch, and Aaron Johnson who run an amazing yet small marijuana business in Southern California. They are soon approached to be bought out by the Mexican drug cartel who is described by federal agent John Travolta as the “Walmart of the drug business.” I won’t tell you what happens in the meeting between the two sides, but soon after Blake Lively’s character is kidnapped.

Directorial wise, there are some great moments in this movie. There was only one moment that I think Stone telegraphed a shot that could’ve been an intense scene. The moments later in the film, when Lively’s character is moved from inside to outside and is unblindfolded, the camera does a great way of adjusting with a little lens flare. It’s hard to describe, but watch for it and it’s really neat. However, and I hate critiquing a movie’s story that was based on a novel because I don’t know if I’m critiquing the novel or the movie’s adaptation of the novel, but honestly I hated everybody portrayed as the “good guys.” I don’t see the appeal of Taylor Kitsch, and every movie he’s been in has been crap.

Everyone of the Mexican cartel actors were fantastic and there were some great scenes in the last third of the movie, minus the ending which I’ll get into. Salma Hayek was fantastic as a great, powerful, yet vulnerable woman who is in control of this mult-million dollar operation and can take a person’s life any time she wants. Benicio Del Toro plays a guy who’s employed by Hayek and plays the role as both ruthless to Lively when she’s being held hostage, yet when things go wrong, he’s afraid of Hayek. It’s an interesting character and I found myself frustrated every time Stone cut back to “The American Good Guys.”

The ending is just stupid, unnecessary and everyone in the theater groaned when they realized what was happening. It’s like, “Okay test audiences didn’t like the way you ended it, so let’s go back and add this little part as another way it could’ve ended.”

I’m interested in checking out the book to see how it deviates from the movie, however as for the movie, wait for it on video. Maybe.

2/5 Stars

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