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Movie Details

  • Genre: Drama, Suspense/Thriller
  • Release Date: 2012-07-06 Nationwide
  • Running Time: 130 min.
  • Director: Oliver Stone
  • Cast: Blake Lively, John Travolta, Aaron Johnson, Benicio Del Toro, Emile Hirsch, Salma Hayek, Taylor Kitsch, Demain Bichir
  • Producers: Oliver Stone, Moritz Borman, Eric Kopeloff
  • Writers: Shane Salerno, Don Winslow, Oliver Stone
  • Distributor: Universal Pictures
  • Official Site: Savages Official Site

"Welcome to the recession, boys," says John Travolta's DEA-double-agent profiteer in Oliver Stone's Savages, a movie of its moment, though both its good guys and bad guys (if there's really even a difference) are unquestionably the 1 percent of their industry--that is, the weed trade. The setting is the 100 miles surrounding the California-Mexico border circa right this minute, with Stone focusing on the human and fiscal politics of California's twin pot economies, one quasi-legal and the other criminal--a split that the film suggests can only last for so long. More than two hours long--and building to two endings, one romantic-tragic and one quasi-ironic and romantic-ludicrous-- Savages is bloated with plot and exposition, much of which is related via the incessant voiceover of Ophelia (Blake Lively), quite literally the voice of the movie, a responsibility the character is too wispy to shoulder. Taylor Kitsch and Aaron Johnson, as California dudes dragged into a turf war with the expansion-minded Mexican cartel, register as blanks on screen. In contrast, Salma Hayek and Benicio del Toro, both sporting apparently intentionally terrible wigs, give big, scenery-chewing performances, earning our interest and empathy even while committing heinous acts. The film's micro-time-capsule approach is interesting, but Stone's indulgence in both above-the-law fantasy and the only-in-Hollywood notion that love trumps business are more potent than any point he's trying to make about our real world.

Karina Longworth

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