Oliver Stone has had a strange second half of his career. After Natural Born Killers he kind of moved into overt stylistics and experimentation territory. Any Given Sunday was a hit for him, but the ex-Vietnam vet was then accused of going soft with the distinctly mediocre World Trade Centre and then for failing to “go after” George W. Bush with his choppy biopic, ‘W’. There’s something very Tony Scott about his latest flick Savages which may be the obvious True Romance influence.
By Mike Sheridan
Johnson and Kitsch are two buddies who have made a fortune dealing pot. Turning a ramshackle operation into an extremely profitable business, they also share a girlfriend (the narrating Lively). When a Mexican drug baron (Hayek) offers them a deal, they politely turn it down only to have their bird promptly kidnapped. Hatching a plan to get her back alive, they find themselves coming up against a very powerful and dangerous woman.
Boasting a ridiculously star heavy supporting cast, it’s fair to say that the majority of these names (John Travolta, Benicio Del Toro, Emile Hirsch) would not have taken roles of a similar size if it wasn’t for Stone’s back catalogue. The production crafted around them is a sporadically entertaining one, if overtly far-fetched and silly.
Kitsch has had a tough summer after a couple of flop blockbusters, but gives easily his best performance so far as the former marine who’s the muscle of the operation. Johnson and Lively have tougher parts, and the latter finds it difficult to make her rich girl even remotely likeable. Regardless, Hayek steals the show, managing to give what should be a one-note villain depth and complexity with a subtle turn. The same can’t be said for Del Toro’s ‘tache, but at least he’s enjoying himself.
Until a very silly ending Savages is a good laugh. Just don’t take it too seriously.
Savages is released on September 21st