Saturday, December 29, 2012

Savages (2012) : A Review

Savages (2012)
Directed By: Oliver Stone
Written By: Shane Salerno and Don Winslow (who wrote the book)
Time: 131 min
Starring: Taylor Kitsch, Salma Hayek, Blake Lively, Aaron Johnson
Plot: Entrepreneurs Ben, a peaceful and charitable marijuana producer, and friend Chon, a former Navy SEAL, run a lucrative, homegrown industry - raising some of the best weed ever developed. They also share a one-of-a-kind love with Ophelia. Life is idyllic in their Southern California town... until the Mexican Baja Cartel decides to move in and demands that the trio partners with them. When the merciless head of the BC, Elena and her enforcer, Lado, underestimate the unbreakable bond of the three friends, Ben and Chon - with the reluctant assistance of a dirty DEA agent - wage a seemingly unwinnable war against the cartel. And so begins a series of increasingly vicious ploys and maneuvers in a high stakes, savage battle of wills.

Comments: Sometimes I dig Oliver Stone and sometimes I don’t, but Savages looked intriguing.  Or maybe I am just a sucker for pretty boys and Salma Hayek as a bad guy.  Who knows, but the weekly trip to Red Box brought this one home with me. Chon, Ben and O are an interesting threesome and yep that kind of threesome.  Ben and Chon have been best friends since they were kids.  While Ben is a part time do gooder saving children in Africa and trying to bring clean water to third world countries, Chon is an ex-NAVY seal who has a bad attitude and a firm belief that civilization is just pretending to be civilized. They both run a Laguna Beach based marijuana ring with Ben being the botanist and Chon the muscle.  Tying them both together is O, spoiled little rich girl who loves them both, sleeps with them both and keeps them all tied together. They run their business in relative peace until southern pot empress Elena (Salma Hayek) wants to form a partnership. Even though Ben is tired of the drug business and wants to bring clean energy and computers to the third world, neither of them want to work for the Baja Cartel and would rather go play Robinson Crusoe off in Indonesia.  No isn’t really acceptable to Elena and her empire, didn’t they see the video of all of the headless guys who weren’t willing to play with her, and so her henchmen kidnap O after a day of fun filled pre-escape shopping. Their playmate taken, the boys decide to become the savages everyone thinks they are.  Let the machinations, plot twists and savagery begin.

The movie begins with an amazing home that Ben and Chon have built with their eco-friendly, fairly benign marijuana empire as O gives us a bit of exposition.  Rich colors, nice curtains blowing in the ocean breeze and Taylor Kitsch’s bare ass pumping away between Blake Lively’s legs.  Can’t say I was complaining as it was a very nice little bum. Of course as soon as Ben comes home from his stint as philanthropist and overall saint, we then see more bums, this time it is Aaron Johnson who looks quite delectable as well (It’s amazing what a few years and some facial hair can do for the Kick Ass kid).  Yes I am shallow, but I can have the men, you can have Blake Lively. Admittedly it’s a lot of sex scenes in the first 20 minutes and as I sat watching it with my roommate Eric, we both kind of just looked at each other and said ‘Really?’.  What is this movie about again?

I do like Oliver Stone’s take on modern drug dealers and marijuana in general.  You have Ben who is sweet and eco-friendly and trying to take some of the savagery out of the drug business. They sell their stuff to the local dispensaries and are trying to help with the pain, but of course the real money comes from shipping it out of state. Of course not everyone plays nice and that is where Chon and his fellow vets come into play every now and again.  You have money launderers who are fresh faced twenty somethings who used to be bankers and scary henchmen who drink iced lattes and watch reality tv. Oh and everyone loves Skype and having cheesy little animations after their live videos of torture and mayhem, possibly just for the cutesy factor or because they want it to be the next meme.

I also liked the relationship between the three lead characters.  The bromance between Chon and Ben is evident.  There is not a lot those two won’t do for one another and apparently for O. It’s a strange relationship that they have, but one that seems to work. The part of the relationship I didn’t like was O herself.  What makes her so special? Other than amazingly tan legs and a killer wardrobe?  Is it the pouting?  I don’t like Blake Lively.  I know I may be a minority here but I don’t think she can particularly act and the whole pouty princess thing got old really quick. O just got to be annoying and I didn’t want her to be.  I really did want her to be this Mother Earth like glue that kept Chon and Ben together and kept them balanced and noble and good. When she is taken away then they descend into the savagery.  

I think what was really annoying is how blasé O is about her kidnapping.  I would be scared shitless.  Hello your boyfriends were just planning the grand disappearing act because the bad guys want their business and their heads, but sure complain about having pizza all the time as you are chained to a bed and being leered at by creepy Benicio Del Toro.  I have no sympathy for her.  And as I said Lively makes O extremely flat, being the happy stoner chick when things are amazing and the sad, whiny stoner chick who frowns and pouts a lot when things aren’t going so well for her.

John Travolta and Benicio play their respective characters over the top, but I am okay with that.  I enjoy being terrified of Lado and Dennis is just a parody of every crooked DEA agent. I think of all of the characters Ben is the most interesting and actually develops throughout the film albeit in a negative way.  I feel for him as you see a good man do some pretty terrible things.  I don’t expect growth from Chon.  He is just a bad ass who likes to blow things up and kill a lot of people.  I am not expecting him to learn a valuable life lesson and become a fuller more realized individual and I am okay with that.  

The movie is also fairly violent.  As I said there are beheadings and one brutal scene with a whip and an eyeball.  Eli Roth would be proud and for that it’s not going to be for everyone.  Plus it is hard to believe that all of this violence is going down just for marijuana. Maybe I am naïve but I just don’t really see stoners getting that worked up especially since you have so many states including my own of Montana where a fifth of your city may have a green card.

From what I hear the book is great and the movie lacks a lot of the political and social commentary that fans of the book really embrace and love. In the end I liked the movie, but have no real desire to watch it again or own it unless I am feeling particularly shallow and need to see some cute man butt. I am really happy to see Aaron Johnson come back into focus though as he was my favorite part and I look forward to seeing more of him. 

Rent/Cinema? Rent

3/4 popcorns

Been A While

So umm, yeah.  Its been a while gang.  What can I say other than its been a hell of a year.  I met a nice fellow nerd who embraces my girly geek and has me hopelessly addicted to Mass Effect 3 and who treats me like a pretty pretty girly geek princess (I forgot how awesome that can be).  I have read far too many book and seen way too many movies and so happy to have the time to do both.  Its been a relatively rough year as well but 2013 promises to be something spectacular.  I have missed you guys and hope all is well on the geek front whether it be books, movies, comics or anything else. In the next few weeks expect to see a lot of me after all I do have a lot of catching up to do.

Happy New Year Kids!