Monday, July 16, 2012


The exquisite beauty of southern California's pacific coastline is a perfect contrast to the violent action in screenwriter/director Oliver Stone's Savages.

Savages, adapted from author Don Winslow's best selling book, tells the story of three friends: Ben played by Aaron Johnson, Ophelia aka O for short, played by Blake Lively, and Chon, played by Taylor Kitsch. Ben is a botanist of the genius calibre. Chon served in the military in Afghanistan and Iraq and also worked as a mercenary. O is the woman who is lover to both men.

Aside from their [by the standards of many] unconventional extended family, Chon and Ben are also business partners. Their business [again unconventional by the standards of many] is supplying the residents of the pacific coastline with some of the highest [no pun intended] quality marijuana in the U.S. Some would even categorize it as the best in the world given it's 30% THC level.

Salma Hayek as Elena, the head of a Baja Mexico drug cartel is a terrific, cold-blooded, pragmatic villainess. Elena proposes a partnership, but her timing could not be worse as the guys were intending to retire, and Ben and Chon want no part of her deal. Elena does not take kindly to refusal. Violence ensues and escalates to levels of horrific proportions. John Travolta as Dennis, a corrupt DEA agent, and Benicio Del Toro as a cartel henchman make for intriguing and entertaining casting choices.

Savages, Rated R, is in theaters now.

“Just ’cause I’m telling you this story doesn’t mean that I’m alive at the end of it. It’s that kind of a story where things got so out of control.” ~ O, from Universal Pictures' Savages
Universal Pictures' Savages Production Notes Excerpts:
Three-time Oscar®-winning filmmaker OLIVER STONE returns to the screen with the ferocious thriller Savages, featuring the all-star ensemble cast of TAYLOR KITSCH (Battleship), BLAKE LIVELY (The Town), AARON JOHNSON (Kick-Ass), JOHN TRAVOLTA (Pulp Fiction), BENICIO Del TORO (Traffic), SALMA HAYEK (Frida), EMILE HIRSCH (Into the Wild) and DEMIƁN BICHIR (A Better Life). The film is based on DON WINSLOW’s best-selling crime novel that was named one of The New York Times’ Top 10 Books of 2010.

Laguna Beach, that glittering seaside resort in Orange County, California, is home to the privileged and the bored: Teens with too much free time and disposable income, as well as men and women kept perpetually young by an ample supply of plastic surgeons—all making a weekly pilgrimage to that suburban mecca, the high-end shopping mall. The temperate climate and the sparkling Pacific Coast give it all a faux laid-back sheen. 

O (Lively) knows all about that. She’s a lovely local who is certainly familiar with her hometown’s homegrown foibles and charms.

O is short for Ophelia…she has her reasons. She’s a unique spirit, as are her housemates—Laguna Beach entrepreneurs Ben (Johnson) and Chon (Kitsch)—an extraordinary trio who share a one-of-a-kind love. Ben, a peaceful, charitable botanist aspires to save the world. His closest friend, Chon, a former Navy SEAL and ex-mercenary, isn’t sure the world is worth saving.

Ben, Chon and O keep to themselves and share a special bond…a postmodern family. They enjoy a quiet, well appointed, free and easy lifestyle, made possible by Ben and Chon’s lucrative business: raising some of the best marijuana ever developed. Independent, fairminded impresarios with a mind-blowing product, they are local heroes providing a product that people want.

Ben and Chon’s company, naturally, does not remain off the grid for long. Their legendary weed and innovative business model have attracted the keen interest of the Mexican Baja Cartel, headed by the merciless Elena “La Reina” (Hayek), her brutal enforcer, Lado (Del Toro), and her unscrupulous head attorney, Alex (Bichir). Elena demands a partnership with Ben and Chon, and nobody refuses La Reina without sacrificing something they hold dear.

But the Cartel underestimates the unbreakable bond among these three remarkable friends. Ben, Chon and, in her own way, O, wage a seemingly unwinnable war against the drug empire with the reluctant assistance of a dirty DEA agent named Dennis (Travolta) and a crafty accountant called Spin (Hirsch). And so begins a series of increasingly vicious ploys and high-stakes brinksmanship in a savage battle of wills.

Based on the novel by Don Winslow (“The Kings of Cool: Prequel to Savages,” “The Power of the Dog”) and from a screenplay by SHANE SALERNO (Armageddon, Shaft) & Don Winslow & Oliver Stone. Savages is produced by longtime Stone collaborators MORITZ BORMAN (W., Alexander, World Trade Center) & ERIC KOPELOFF (W., Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps).

The thriller is executive produced by FERNANDO SULICHIN (South of the Border, The Killer Inside Me), Shane Salerno and TODD ARNOW (Battleship, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World).

The Following clips from Universal Pictures'/Screenwriter/Director Oliver Stone's Savages contain violence and adult language
Viewer Discretion Advised

1 comment:

Dan O. said...

Good review. Lively's narrative takes this film down a lot but the rest of the performances make this film a lot better than you would expect from another Stone "drug movie". Could have been a whole lot better but not terrible, and that's good considering what Stone has put out in the past decade.

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