Oliver Stone brings the gritty, violent and sexual novel by Don Winslow to the big screen with a star studded cast.
In a film that feels more Oliver Stone than any of his latest entries, Savages is an intense thrill-ride that is a pleasing alternative summer flick to the superheroes and family-friendly movies during this season. Featuring an all-star cast that includes Blake Lively, Taylor Kitsch, Aaron Johnson, Salma Hayek, John Travolta and Benicio Del Toro, the movie centers around three beautiful young people, Ben (Aaron Johnson), Chon (Taylor Kitsch), and O (Blake Lively). Ben and Chon are pot growers who are contacted by a Mexican drug cartel hoping to do business with them, but when they decline their offer, they've angered, Elena (Salma Hayek), the ring leader who then appoints her henchman Lado (Benicio Del Toro) to kidnap the boys' shared girlfriend, O (short for "Ophelia") leading the boys to go to great lengths to save her.
Though the pacing of the film was rather uneven, with some parts a bit slow and other parts leaving you at the edge of your seat, Stone, who also wrote the script, managed to give each of the characters a well-fleshed out story arc. From O's relationship with Elena, to Elena's with her daughter, to Ben and Chon's, etc.
Salma Hayek absolutely slays as the drug cartel leader Elena, owning every scene she is in and proving to be a major force to be reckoned with. Every line she delivers is done so with such power that it actually makes you believe that so many men can fear a women with such a small physique. Narrating the movie and playing the role of the spoiled drug-addicted California girl, Blake Lively further proves that she is capable of taking on meatier roles than that of her shallow fashion forward socialite character on Gossip Girl. She may be flaunting her curves and golden locks, but the actress also brings a certain depth to her character giving O a backstory that explains why she is the way she is. Aaron Johnson continues to glow as a rising talent in Hollywood, playing the sensitive Buddhist Ben, whose chemistry with Taylor Kitsch's Chon makes for a highly believable friendship. Taylor Kitsch, after two major flops this year, continues to show that he is indeed a versatile actor as well. Another highlight in the cast was Benicio Del Toro, who gives a frightening but spectacular performance as Elena's henchman Lado.
If you were looking for something other than superheroes, vulgar teddy bears, animation and male strippers, than Savages is the movie for you.
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