September 3, 2014
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Savages
Don Fowler
2.5 stars
Reviewer's Rating:

(Violent drug war story with no good guys)

There are no good guys (or gals) in this violent Oliver Stone movie about the conflict between California drug growers/dealers and the Mexican drug cartels.

Stone, who has made violent war movies, pushes the envelope to the extreme, depicting in gross detail the extent drug dealers will go to maintain their power in the multi-million dollar "business.”

While not a pretty sight to watch, as heads are chopped off, people are tortured and burned alive, eyes are popped out, and blood is spilled from every part of the body, the movie does attempt to open our eyes to the brutal world of illegal drugs.

If you can take the carnage, you'll experience an exciting, though stomach-turning series of events, as people play the power game, threatening, challenging, deceiving and resorting to kidnapping, torture and cold-blooded murder.

Taylor Kitsch plays Chon, the violent, aggressive Afghanistan vet who thinks nothing of killing the enemy. Aaron Johnson is Ben, his closest friend since childhood, who spends his spare time, when not growing "the best weed in the world,” helping people in under-developed countries. The odd couple are part of an odder trio, living in an open and sexually shared relationship with O (short for Ophelia), played by Blake Lively.

Enter the mean looking dudes from Mexico who want to cut a deal with the Americans to distribute their product. Salma Hayak plays the leader of the cartel with a vengeance. Benecio Del Toro, looking more sinister than ever, plays her henchman, Lado. When Ben and Chon balk, the Mexicans kidnap O, and things get real ugly, as both sides try to outsmart each other.

In the middle of it all is a crooked DEA agent (John Travolta), who plays both sides of the fence and eventually gets himself in big trouble. By the time the movie winds down, dozens of people have been killed or maimed.

Chon, Ben and O were living the good life until the Mexican cartel moved in. The questions are how far will they go to protect their lavish lifestyle, and whom do the guys care for most, each other or their shared girlfriend? The bigger question is, Who do you root for? The answer really is no one. It all comes down to the big shootout, which at least has a realistic ending, but then Stone gives a second ending, which is pure fantasy, and has been used dozens of times before.

Rated a giant R, with profanity (some in Spanish), nudity, sex, drugs, violence and gore.


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