Twitchy Afghanistan war vet Chon (Taylor Kitsch), his surfer-dude best bud Ben (Aaron Johnson), and their it’s-complicated communal girlfriend O (Blake Lively) spend their time running a multi-million-dollar weed business.
Their breezy, idyllic lifestyle is rudely interrupted when a Mexican drug cartel moves into town, demanding a cut of their take.
When our heroes refuse, O is snatched from a shopping spree and held at axe-point for ransom.
Cue bloodbath… Oliver Stone has spent most of the last decade crafting political-tragic dramas and Fidel Castro docs, which is why Savages, whose closest cousin is Natural Born Killers, is such a surprising about-face.
It’s a frothy B-movie cocktail served in a big-budget goblet, complete with an A-list supporting cast of weird-haired kooks (Benicio Del Toro as a mulleted thug, John Travolta as a balding crooked cop, Salma Hayek as a femme fatale with a Cleopatra cut), perfume-ad visuals, several (fully clothed) threesomes, and some jaw-dropping, eye-rolling, cheeseball dialogue (“I have orgasms. Chon has wargasms”).
It’s lightweight, empty-skulled stuff, sun-dappled and dreamy, punctuated with splatter-movie carnage. Hayek, as the beyond-ruthless drug queenpin Elena, is the standout; a smirking death-goddess with a mile-long mean streak.
As for the leads, it’s clear Stone hired most of them for their profiles: at least half the film is dedicated to close-ups of their pretty mugs.
The face-fetishising is distracting, but manageable. The same can’t be said for the cop-out finale, which is a cheat, plain and simple. Still, Savages is a brisk, bloody howl.
Savages is punishing in places, but there are enough colourful characters and careening twists to make it worth the effort.