DVD: Savages

BY JULIA ALEXANDER

Savages is an aesthetically pleasing movie with an intricate plot line which only gets lost within the pure sexual prowess Oliver Stone plays heavily on.

Savages is an action-packed thriller, directed by Oliver Stone and based on the book by Don Winslow, which follows the events of a woman who is taken from her two lovers. Ophelia, or “O” (Blake Lively), is in love with two men, Ben (Aaron Johnson) and Chon (Taylor Kitsch), who run one of the largest marijuana production businesses in the world. After declining to partner up with a highly powerful member of the Mexican drug cartel, O is kidnapped. The events which follow focus primarily on the story of what these two men would do to get the love of their lives back. It’s bloody, it’s sexy, and it’s downright savage.

While I enjoyed the film, I can easily say it won’t be in my top ten Oliver Stone list. Aaron Johnson, Blake Lively and Taylor Kitsch give absolutely stellar performances, especially so if you take a look at the original source material they had to work with. The issue I had with the film came from the lack of narrative we’re presented with. The background of each main character is introduced well within the first half hour of the movie, but there are still questions left unanswered.

Other than the narrative, or lack thereof, the movie is a fun, action flick. The cast is uncompromising in their various roles, and I truly believe if you throw Benicio Del Toro into a drug movie, it will automatically earn some merit. Salma Hayek’s role was overlooked upon initial theatrical review and it was easily one of the best roles in the film. You grow to love Hayek’s character and, at one point throughout the film, even silently root for her.

It’s nearly impossible, and slightly irresponsible, to write a review on the year’s biggest marijuana based movie and not talk about it’s lure with stoner audiences. This is in no way a Pineapple Express or a How High, but the first half of the movie will bring back some of those memories. As mentioned prior, a large portion of this movie revolves around the illegal marijuana trade, and, in particular, the trade when handled by the Mexican drug cartels. Personally, I loved the idea of taking a drug which is exploited for comedic purposes and used as a weapon of emotional warfare. In many ways, this element of the attempted plot line reminds me of Traffic, another Del Toro movie centring on the lives of Mexican drug cartels.

C+

EXTRAS: The DVD also comes with commentary from various members included in the project. With one commentary, you can watch the movie with Oliver Stone, as he recounts his various directorial choices. The other commentary is from Don Winslow, the author of the original book. Winslow’s was my favourite commentary as you learn about the process of going from paper to screen and the difficulties with doing so.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KC2zbOwbeEs]

A twenty-something-year-old journalism student with too many interests to count on one hand. Julia’s life isn’t complete until every John Hughes scene is re-enacted somehow in real life.

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