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The story of a cab driver in Yanji City, a region between North Korea, China and Russia. His wife goes to Korea to earn money, but he doesn't hear from her since in 6 months. He plays ... See full summary »
A case of mistaken identity lands Slevin into the middle of a war being plotted by two of the city's most rival crime bosses: The Rabbi and The Boss. Slevin is under constant surveillance by relentless Detective Brikowski as well as the infamous assassin Goodkat and finds himself having to hatch his own ingenious plot to get them before they get him.
Entrepreneurs Ben, a peaceful and charitable marijuana producer, and friend Chon, a former Navy SEAL, run a lucrative, homegrown industry - raising some of the best weed ever developed. They also share a one-of-a-kind love with Ophelia. Life is idyllic in their Southern California town... until the Mexican Baja Cartel decides to move in and demands that the trio partners with them. When the merciless head of the BC, Elena and her enforcer, Lado, underestimate the unbreakable bond of the three friends, Ben and Chon - with the reluctant assistance of a dirty DEA agent - wage a seemingly unwinnable war against the cartel. And so begins a series of increasingly vicious ploys and maneuvers in a high stakes, savage battle of wills. Written by
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During the scene when O is e-mailing her mother about Paris (while she is really being held captive) we first see the headphone remote/volume control knob on her right, but in the next scene it is on her left. See more »
Maybe not profound, but brutal, compelling, memorable and enthralling. This is Oliver Stone on form!
Savages, the first of my double bill tonight, is Oliver Stone's nineteenth feature as director in a career that has so far won him three Oscars and a fair share of both critical acclaim (Platoon) and vitriolic vituperation (Alexander). It's impossible to know which Stone will be on duty with each release until you hand over paper and take your seat. Savages won't trouble the Academy in February but this is Stone fairly close to the top of his game.
Ben (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Chon (Taylor Kitsch) contrast each other in almost every way emotionally and in their approach to life but they are best friends, business partners and share their lives, their home and their girl, O (Blake Lively). Their business is drugs but not in the seedy, council flat, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels kind of way but in the scientific, multi-million, California kind of way. Life is fun, cash is plentiful and there's even Dennis (John Travolta), a bent DEA agent, vaguely on their side to ensure everything runs smoothly. Then the Mexican Baja Cartel, headed by Elena (Salma Hayek) and her bulldog, Lado (Benicio Del Toro) decide they want a slice of the pie and kidnap O as gentle persuasion.
Savages doesn't have anything new or profound to say about drug smuggling or the multitudinous crimes tied up in the drag trade and there's no great political slant or revelation, which is disappointing after such bold statements from Stone in the likes of JFK and Nixon. But it is a ripping good yarn and there are times when it's just blisteringly fine entertainment. It looks beautiful. The frames are saturated with rich colours and the cinematography is to be celebrated. Each shot is sculpted, each movement feels effortless choreographed.
Stone has paid huge attention to the incidentals, the minutiae. For such a harsh, brash film there is some wonderful subtly in the periphery of the frame and the seemingly disposable dialogue has barbs that tear. Everything is planned & executed explicitly so that there is occasionally too much to absorb, which can be a relief in a film that is so brutal.
The brutality of Savages is numbing from the outset; the opening scene is shocking and horrific despite not being depicted fully for us to endure. This is a violent film in tone far more than in act but don't fool yourself that Savages will be easy on the eyes. It isn't. This is no place for sensitivity and sensitivity is, in fact, murdered in cold blood. Just one more blood splatter in an ocean of claret.
The opening voice-over jars initially but is quickly forgiven because Stone, who also co-scripts, takes his time telling the story. Nothing is rushed; time is taken to explain fully. It's not that he thinks we can't keep up, it's that he's determined we should completely understand everything he wants to show and tell. And while he takes over two hours to spill his beans, it's worth investing in every second to enjoy his tale. So, it's a linear affair with few twists or subplots? It's still an accessible, engaging film that is difficult to shake off after the affair.
Much of Savages' success is in the casting and performance. Stone has shied away from huge, bankable movie stars that have carried so many of his films, instead favouring recognizable actors who play second-fiddle to the characters. Of the principal three, Taylor-Johnson has earned plaudits in the likes of Nowhere Boy and Kick-Ass and is on his way to stardom; Lively, though he provided solid support in The Town, is better known as the small-screen star of Gossip Girl; and Kitsch is just trying to get by after two of this year's biggest turkeys, John Carter and Battleship.
Each if them is watchable, delivering performances that are as entertaining and moving as they are believable, while Hayek chews scenery as a woman you may fantasize about but has serious black widow tendencies. You'd no more mess with her than you would cross Uzis, with Del Toro's Lado, a thug who craves greater acts of sadism and louder screams of agony with every bout of torture he inflicts.
Whenever Travolta turns up in a decent film, I can't help feeling he's been thrown a bone by a sympathetic director (look what Tarantino did for him with Pulp Fiction or Terrence Malick with The Thin Red Line) but will inevitably spit it out and go after a foetid rat. With each career rejuvenation he seems to jump straight back into another Battlefield Earth or Michael. Very much a supporting actor here, he's adequate rather then excellent but proves again he's worthy of so much more than another Swordfish.
There is an art to compiling a film soundtrack and too often we're blasted with something deeply inappropriate because a record company requires a hit anyone remember the shocking inclusion of I Love It When You Call in rom-com Good Luck Chuck where the second line, but you never call at all, was cut? Fortunately there are no such travesties in Savages' soundtrack, which is dressed with some fabulous covers including Bruce Lash's take on Psycho Killer and Yuna's Here Comes the Sun.
When I asked a member of Cineworld staff if he'd seen Savages yet, he responded "I haven't seen anything since Ted. I only like comedies." If you take a similar view, steer clear of Savages; it is most certainly not for you. But if you're looking for something that requires more thought than the second film of my double-bill, Dredd, and has more to it than noise, guns, blood and smashed heads, Oliver Stone might have provided an option.
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