Films are like puzzles. Ideally, each aspect of a film is like a particular piece that links together to create one beautiful piece of art. Many times though the pieces just do not fit together and we end up with films that are mediocre or worse. Savages is one of those films.
Despite having a great concept, a legendary director (whose legend may be a little overinflated) and a cast of actors most films would die for, I felt Savages was such a mess of a film that I openly questioned myself on if I got it or not. I came to the conclusion that I did not care because ultimately it is just a bad piece of entertainment and my getting it would not help it one way or the other.
Director Oliver Stone has been riding his past successes for years now. Personally, I have not been impressed by anything he has directed since Any Given Sunday, which was over a decade ago and the quality of that film is generally up for debate (I just really like Al Pacino in it). With Savages, Stone has a simple concept where a pair of small time pot distributers get mixed up with the wrong side of a big Mexican cartel and ultimately flip the bad back on the cartel by playing things smarter. It should be tense and exciting as the two try and outsmart the larger and more dangerous cartel, instead most of the film is devoid of any excitement or tension.
The script’s handling of the characters leaves no room for development, everyone is just a cardboard cutout and as such I never cared for any of the plethora of characters in play. This would not be a problem if the film just played everything straight and was a generic action movie but Savages is not an action movie, it is a thriller without any thrills. The entire back half of the film is reliant on the audience feeling something for the actions being forced upon Ben (Aaron Johnson) and Chon (Taylor Kitsch) as they try to save their shared girlfriend, O (Blake Lively).
Savages attempts to shock audiences but, fails to reach those lofty goals. Some of that may be pinned on the fact that entertainment has reached a threshold where hardly anything is capable of actually shocking people but some of that needs to be pinned on Stone for not realizing his film fails to achieve its intended goal. Without the shock value, Savages is less than mediocre and at a run time of over two hours, the film can be something of a slog.
While much of the film’s tone is bleak and unfun, John Travolta continues his descent into Nic Cage territory with his performance here. It is not good enough to suggest anyone goes to see this but one might want to catch this when it comes out on Netflix a few months from now just to witness it.
2 / 5