Film Review: SAVAGES

Directed by Oliver Stone
Written by Shane Salerno, Don Winslow and Stone, based on the novel by Winslow
Starring Taylor Kitsch, Blake Lively, Aaron Johnson, John Travolta, Benecio Del Toro, Salma Hayek

I have not read SAVAGES, but read THE DAWN PATROL by Winslow, which I loved. Despite my ambivalence about this film, I will probably read SAVAGES and its prequel at some point if only to see if certain troublesome plot points were in the original text. I know the ending is, but then is not, the ending to the book. If Stone had remained truthful to both Winslow and the characters he was writing about, it would have been a superior film. Still it was not a bad one.

PLOT: The film’s most interesting assets for me was the presentation of a threesome, content with that arrangement at least at this point in their young lives. O (Lively) lives with Chon, a former Navy Seal (Kitsch) and Ben, a marijuana grower (Johnson). Together they run a nice little drug operation in Laguna Beach. The film is not overly explicit about just how the threesome functions sexually, but the notion that O’s the handy way of handling ambiguous male sexuality is certainly offered.

Not that the boys don’t love her. They certainly do (and who wouldn’t?). When she is kidnapped by Mexicans (Del Torro, Hayek) looking for a way to persuade our two heroes that they have to play ball with the new bullies in town, they will do anything to get her back. Insert a DEA agent (Travolta) who is willing to take on whatever role serves him best. (This was one of Travolta’s better performances).

Much of the film deals with what the Mexicans will or won’t do to O, and the ongoing negotiations to return O to the boys. And this was my problem with the film. I would’ve liked to spend more time with the threesome, understanding how and why they came together, how their operation worked, what each of them had to gain from it. But instead, it is Hayek and Del Toro, twirling their moustaches’ we spend most of the film watching. We spend too much time wondering if and how O will be tortured. As it is, it’s a decent film for a certain audience. And you know who you are.

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