There are many times in Savages that characters tell others to “leave their morals at the door”. Director Oliver Stone seems to tell the audience to do the same as they enter his twisted tale of sex, lies, and copious amounts of graphic and brutal violence. Savages is a very adult thriller, and within the first five minutes, you’ll know whether this is your kind of movie or not. How will you know? Simple, because there is enough sex, violence, cursing, and drug use to earn the movie a hard “R”. Believe me, its all downhill from there.
Many movies fail at creating a brutally violent film that is still entertaining. Films like The Mechanic, Conan The Barbarian, Centurion, and the awful Shark Night fail at this. It is extremely rare for a film to successfully have numerous scenes of brutal violence in a film, and still maintain a lighthearted tone for the next scene. Movies like The Untouchables, Kick-Ass, and Jackie Brown are all films that pull this tone off. While I wouldn’t rank Savages with these fantastic films, it’s the same kind of tone.
While I think that Oliver Stone’s direction is a major part of this, I give a lot of the credit to the performances of Benicio Del Toro, Salma Hayek, and John Travolta as the reason for the success of the film. Aaron Johnson, Blake Lively, and (shockingly) Taylor Kitsch are all adequate, but Benicio Del Toro, Salma Hayek, and John Travolta are all just enough over the top to keep the movie floating. Del Toro’s cartel enforcer is really the scene-‐stealer for the entire movie, committing horrific acts with unnaturally creepy glee. He is a character that you love to hate, similar to Hans Landa from Inglorious Basterds.
The plot is occasionally confusing, and the film does occasionally drop its steam at times, but for most of the film, I was locked in to my seat. Savages is the kind of movie in which characters get nastily shot, stabbed, or blown up, and the audience responds with a resounding “Oh ****!” and then dives back into their popcorn. If that sounds like your kind of movie, I would give Savages a shot. If you’re not into sex, drugs and violence, stay away from this one.
Review by Ryan Fitzmartin