Oliver Stone tries to explore his inner Tarantino, but frankly doesn’t have the courage of his convictions.
What in the heck am I talking about?
I’m talking about “Savages,” a smart, sexy, violent thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat for nearly two hours, only to pull the rug out from under you with an alternate ending that, at best, should have been ignored or relegated to the DVD extras, but certainly not attached to the actual movie.
I couldn’t believe my eyes.
Surely, one of the world’s more colorful directors would not roll over for a cupcake conclusion that not only goes against the source-material novel, but against the essence of his very film?
It’s almost as if he’s channeling Goldilocks and her adventures with the Bear family. This one’s too hard. This one is too soft. Only where’s the one that’s just right? Oddly missing, that’s where.
OK, enough on that.
This is the story of two successfully independent drug dealers, the easygoing Ben (Aaron Johnson) and his more militant best bud, Chon (Taylor Kitsch).
They are such good friends that they share the same girlfriend Ophelia or “O” (Blake Lively) and live an idyllic life on the Malibu shores.
Ben uses his extensive gift of growing to create some of the best marijuana found anywhere in the world. They may not produce in large quantities, but their low-key, boutique enterprise is regarded as one of the best organized anywhere.
In their years of business, they’ve rarely had a run-in with any client, and when they have, Chon is the one who handles the basic enforcement.
But all that’s about to change, as a Mexican cartel, led by the tough and beautiful Elena (Salma Hayek), will try to muscle in on their business by kidnapping Ophelia to force a smooth transition.
The boys had been willing to play nice, but now they’re angry, resourceful and
desperate. Benicio Del Toro is Elena’s cruel right-hand man. John Travolta plays a two-faced, back-stabbing DEA agent.
All will come together in a complex showdown that can only end one way — somebody’s going to have to get a bloody nose or much worse. Or will they?
It’s an engaging and gritty movie that sells out like few films in recent memory. The tragedy is, all of the parts were there, hanging on a dramatic precipice, until Oliver Stone pushed it over the sappy edge.
Inexplicable. What a shame.