Savages (3 stars)


Patchy drugs thriller from Oliver Stone featuring Salma Hayek, Benicio Del Toro and John Travolta

Oliver Stone's latest thriller Savages highlights both the filmmaker's strengths and weaknesses. At its best, the film plays as a violent neo-Western that examines America's war on drugs, with some impressive performances; at its worst, it's a self-indulgent and soulless experience.

Based on the novel of the same name by Don Winslow, the film follows the fortunes of two successful Laguna Beach marijuana dealers (Taylor Kitsch's ex-Navy Seal and Aaron Taylor-Johnson's people-friendly stoner), their shared love interest (Blake Lively) and the Mexican drug cartel (headed by Salma Hayek and policed by Benicio Del Toro) who subsequently shatter their idyllic existence.

Yet while all the components are in place for a suitably pulpy thriller in the mould of, say, Stone's own U-Turn, with touches of Steven Soderbergh's Traffic thrown in, the film ultimately fails to fulfill its potential or have much that’s valid to say. Lively's central character, who also serves as narrator, is supposed to provide the film with its heart and soul, yet is too spoilt and irritating to warrant much sympathy. Yet despite its shortcomings, Savages isn't a complete waste of time. Hayek and Del Toro are particularly good as the ruthless cartel duo and it's great to see John Travolta back on screen as a despicably corrupt DEA agent.

General release from Fri 21 Sep.

Savages - Trailer


  • 3 stars
  • 2012
  • US
  • 2h 11min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Oliver Stone
  • Written by: Shane Salerno, Oliver Stone (screenplay), Don Winslow (novel)
  • Cast: Aaron Johnson, Taylor Kitsch, Blake Lively
  • UK release: 28 September 2012

Thriller in which a couple of pot growers take on the brutal Mexican drug cartel that has kidnapped their (shared) girlfriend.

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