SYNOPSIS: Laguna Beach entrepreneurs Ben (Johnson), a peaceful and charitable marijuana producer, and his closest friend Chon (Kitsch), a former Navy SEAL and ex-mercenary, run a lucrative, homegrown industry-raising some of the best weed ever developed. They also share a one-of-a-kind love with the extraordinary beauty Ophelia (Lively). Life is idyllic in their Southern California town... until the Mexican Baja Cartel decides to move in and demands that the trio partners with them. When the merciless head of the BC, Elena (Hayek), and her brutal enforcer, Lado (Del Toro), underestimate the unbreakable bond among these three friends, Ben and Chon--with the reluctant, slippery assistance of a dirty DEA agent (Travolta)--wage a seemingly unwinnable war against the cartel. And so begins a series of increasingly vicious ploys and maneuvers in a high-stakes, savage battle of wills.
REVIEW: Every so often a movie comes along that puts certain industries in perspective. Such examples would be The Social Network (2010) showing the upstart “dot.com” details, or better yet, the iconic flick Wall Street (1997), showing how vulnerable the US economy can be when “greed” is embraced as an attribute. What movies of the sort would do is shed light on the inner workings of its respective markets or industries. Well, such is the case of Savages, where it sheds light on the emerging legal “Pot” market and the influence of the Mexican drug cartel. Three-time Oscar-winning filmmaker Director Oliver Stone does a terrific job with showing how legalizing marijuana on limited levels in southern California, can actually attract the all too enterprising and ambitious drug cartel.
This flick seems to start out very charming and straightforward about sexually charged drug addicts, but quickly turns into all out “narco-warfare.” It captivates you with an astounding line-up of “A-listers” and a few relatively new-comer actors including Taylor Kitsch (Peter Berg's Battleship - 2012), Aaron Johnson (Nowhere Boy - 2009), screen veterans John Travolta and Benicio Del Toro (Two of the greatest supporting actors anyone can ever ask for), then gives you a ride from hell that never seems to end. The movie gives a fascinating story line that keeps you conjecturing up possibilities of what could happen next. It also does a great job putting the audience into the characters’ world and eventually one begins to feel some level of sorrow for the positions that they are in. Overall, you end up developing lots of mixed emotions for characters on both sides of the conflict. With this type of approach, Stone is able to keep the audience completely engaged in every aspect of the movie, to include the extremely interesting twist to the romance that play out throughout the two hour and ten minute thrill ride. I have to say, for a movie that I thought would be just another kill or be killed drug-lord ‘shoot-em-up movie’, it kept me intrigued from beginning to end. Savages really gives you a real-life feel to the plot and shows a good example of how the drug cartel can, if not already, be maneuvering themselves in ways that will let them survive, even if it becomes totally legal to buy and sell illicit drugs.
An action flick cannot be a complete action flick without some real eye-candy and not many can deliver better than the likes of Selma Hayek, Blake lively (Gossip Girl) and Karishma Ahluwalia (What Happens in Vegas – 2008). Overall the movie was outstanding, a great story, lots of incredible actors and the ending had everyone in the theater is shock and awe! I would predict there will be a follow-up to this great story and I give it four out of five stars for magnificent delivery.
By Movie-Man Stan
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