Flick of the Week: Oliver Stone’s “Savages”

Oliver Stone’s films are generally pretty trippy; viewers who give themselves over to the ride can have a good time. Savages has moments of pleasure amid its brutality, but they are mostly of the guilty variety. Erotic couplings, hammy acting and over-the-top violence.

The film opens—after some beheadings—with O (Blake Lively) narrating the “out of control” story. She cautions viewers, “Just because I’m telling you this story, it doesn’t mean I’m alive at the end.” And so begins the sordid tale of Chon (Taylor Kitsch) and Ben (Aaron Johnson), two good-looking drug dealers who both love O. The guys, who produce weed with 33% THC, are being pressured to enter into a “joint venture” with Elena (Salma Hayek). But they are reluctant, which prompts Elena to have O kidnapped. Various double crosses occur, natch.

Savages is consistently over-the-top as Chon and Ben try to reverse their bad fortune. But the real excitement comes from watching the badass bad guys. Hayek tears into her role like Elena tears into a pork chop at the dinner table. Benecio del Toro, is Lado, a hyperviolent thug who effortlessly steals his every scene—shooting kneecaps, or wiping spit in someone’s hair. Even John Travolta as a squirmy, crooked cop is fun to watch. These supporting characters may be caricatures, but they help Savages overcome its predictable (and sometimes dull) stretches.

Also Opening

The Amazing Spider-Man Andrew Garfield plays the webbed wonder in this reboot.

Katy Perry: Part of Me Just in time for 4th of July, the “Fireworks” singer gets her own concert film.

To Rome with Love Woody Allen writes, directs, and co-stars with Penelope Cruz, Alec Baldwin, Jesse Eisenberg and Judy Davis in this romp about neurotic romantics in Italy.

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Gary Kramer

Gary M. Kramer is a Philadelphia-based film critic who thinks Sandra Bullock mambos. He likes eating ethnic food and watching ethnic movies—though not necessarily both at the same time or from the same country.

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