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July 7, 2012 | 12:00 p.m. CST
Savages opens with Blake Lively’s character, Ophelia, saying, “Just ‘cause I’m telling you this story, doesn’t mean that I’m alive at the end of it.”
It sure sounds like a good hook for the beginning of a movie. However, as Oliver Stone’s newest action thriller progresses, the audience’s response to this statement would probably become, “Do we even care?”Related Movie
Savages tells the story of Ben (Aaron Johnson) and Chon (Taylor Kitsch), two marijuana growers who live in hedonistic paradise with their shared girlfriend, Ophelia, in Laguna Beach. Ben and Chon are the “odd couple” of cannabis cultivators. Ben is a peaceful Buddhist who majored in business and botany at University of California-Berkeley, but he uses the profits he makes from growing the best marijuana in the country to help fund humanitarian projects in Africa. Chon, on the other hand, is an ex-Navy SEAL who served twice in the Middle East and, fittingly, is the muscle end of his business partnership with Ben.
Their utopian lifestyle comes to a halt after declining a deal with the Mexican Baja cartel and Ophelia is kidnapped as a result of this.
As intriguing as this premise sounds, Savages relies too much on the good looks of the three protagonists and doesn't spend enough time explaining why their story matters. Most of the dialogue that takes place while these three are on screen seems stale and does nothing to deliver the story forward.
Performances by Benicio Del Toro and John Travolta help salvage the film, but their character development isn't fleshed out enough to make their stories compelling.
Yes, Savages does have the striking visuals expected from an Oliver Stone movie. However, it is essentially a thriller that doesn’t produce thrills. There is a high expectation for the plot in the beginning, but storytelling ended up falling flat. After watching this ballad of marijuana growers trying to get their girl back, the audience is just more curious as to how they were supposed to care for these characters in the first place.