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Friday, July 6, 2012

Savages Review - by Joshua Handler

Universal Pictures
Savages Review
by Joshua Handler
2012, 130 minutes
Rated R for strong brutal and grisly violence, some graphic sexuality, nudity, drug use, and language throughout

"Boring" and "Oliver Stone" should not be used in the same sentence.  But, here they will be as Savages is one of the year's biggest bores.  Savages tells the story of two young men (Taylor Kitsch and Aaron Johnson) who try to get their shared girlfriend (Blake Lively) back from a Mexican drug cartel.  

This story should have been compelling and political (given that it is an Oliver Stone film), but it is neither.  There was no bite to Savages.  It was brutally violent and lurid without a punch.  The characters are underdeveloped and some are frankly annoying and the dialogue that they are given is not fiery or witty.  By the time the film was over (I was waiting for last 80 minutes for it to end), I did not care whether the characters lived or died.  The biggest flaw of the screenplay is the ending which is both pointless and melodramatic.  I almost said, "You've got to be kidding me" when the film didn't end when I thought it would.  Not only did it not end, it went on for another mind-numbingly dumb 10 or 15 minutes.

The acting in the movie is no better than the story.  Blake Lively was fine, but was dull and was not given much to work with.  Aaron Johnson wasn't great either (that may have been from the poor writing too), but Taylor Kitsch deserves a Razzie for this one.  His performance is flat and his line delivery is as bad as an amateur's.  He was as wooden as the tree outside my window.  John Travolta and Salma Hayek have energy in their roles, but overact so badly that it is unintentionally funny to watch them.  They are both actors that I respect and really enjoy, but here they were terrible.  I groaned whenever Travolta appeared because he was like a cartoon character.

The camerawork is nothing special and the musical score is ridiculous.  It detracts from the movie with its excessive use of booming classical music and rips off of another movie, Babel.  The only redeeming part of this movie was that for the first 50 or so minutes it was pretty entertaining in a trashy way.  By the end, it just became trash.

Overall, Savages is a waste of time and talent.  It is not an awful movie, but not even close to passable.  Oliver Stone needs to come up with something more interesting than this trash next time.


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