Savages Review

I heart Platoon.

Natural Born Killers is pretty damn good too.

I was even at a London press conference for Oliver Stone when his insightful documentary South Of The Border was released on these shores.

And the director’s a charming guy who answered every question fired his way with grace and candour, especially those asked by the female journalists in the crowd.

So it pains me to say watching his new film, Savages, was a hideous experience.

Beginning like one of those horribly fake, black and white perfume adverts starring Blake Lively, we’re introduced to Ophelia.

Played by Blake Lively.

Sadly, I’d suggest perfume adverts are about the right level for the Mrs Ryan Reynolds.

Ophelia, unsurprisingly enough given her name, has a tragic backstory.

If you count growing up in Laguna Beach with rich parents as tragic.

I don’t, but then I don’t live in a perfume advert.

To drown her sorrows O, as she likes to be called, has hooked up with a former Iraq war vet by the name of John and his best friend Ben.

Actually, I’ve just looked that up and it’s not John – it’s Chon.

Chon? Really?

Anyway, when O reveals that she sleeps with both of these firm friends, her grating narration asks whether we think her a slut.

It’s 2012, not 1912 O, but you carry on thinking the world revolves around your vacuous head.

Seeing as Chon is the brawn of the operation, you wouldn’t be too surprised to learn that Ben is the brains.

He’s so smart, Ben’s been able to put his degree in botany to grow the most potent ‘erb on the west coast.

With Chon supplying the muscle, these two amigos have fast become the best pot dealers on the west coast; and this happy threesome play out their lives in baked paradise on a beach until some south american drugs cartel want a piece of their action.

Anyway, some kidnapping goes down and these two sides are soon locked in a war against each other ’til blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

If the scriptwriters can’t be bothered to write a decent screenplay, why should my review be any different?

Savages is a bland tale about nothing in particular, but Stone and his compadres have thrown enough cash around to attract an A-list ensemble cast and plenty of stylised camera shots replete with unhealthy doses of gratuitous and graphic violence at every turn.

Not that this matters one jot, as the poor to non-existent characterisation means you simply don’t care whether any of them live or die.

Ok, that’s not quite true; I was disappointed most of the characters didn’t die, and a whole lot sooner than the two hour plus running time of this flick.

There are two moments in Savages when I literally shook my head at the awful nature of Stone’s new film.

The first is when Blake Lively’s character Ophelia tries to compare the happy union she has with her two boys to Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid.

They are nothing like the happy trio from Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid, and neither is Savages.

Mostly because the former was and still is a damn good film.

The awfully crowbarred nature of this reference jarred with me somewhat, but worse was to follow; and if you see the ending of Savages then you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.

Despite the pretty famous faces of most all the major players involved, from Aaron Taylor-Johnson to John Travolta, it’s no surprise to see most of these actors in a film like this.

With the notable exception of one; Benicio Del Toro, an actor’s actor whose film choices have traditionally been based on artistic rather than commercial merit.

God knows what happened to make him willingly choose to be a part of Savages, maybe Stone got him high before he signed the contract?

I just hope Stone lived up to his name and was high when making this
awful film.

Jonathan Campbell

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September 2012
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