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Tanya Khoury: Mindless drivel
October 05, 2012
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I wanted so much for this film to be good; I am a fan of most of Oliver Stone’s old work, though his few latest ones have been pretty rough around the edges, I still hold a candle for him.

Based on the novel by Don Winslow, Savages tries everything from all angles all at the same time, shot with Panavision anamorphic lenses. Basically what this means is the cinematographer (Daniel Mindel) uses the technique of capturing a widescreen picture on standard 35 mm film. Something that Stone has not done since Natural Born Killers. Hence the excitement at my end – I like the shifting from black and white to colour and back as well as the constantly moving pictures style of filmmaking. It’s a bold take on presenting a film since everyone out there wants to showcase his/her technical ability.

My problem with this film started from the very beginning, take the look and feel of the picture out for a second and let’s re-focus on the narration by the protagonist Blake Lively, who plays ‘O’, the girlfriend of the two ‘entrepreneurs’ Chon and Ben, played by Taylor Kitsch and Aaron Taylor-Johnson respectively. I will get into that storyline in a minute; the issue here is Lively herself. I find that she still needs quite some time to mature as an actor, her delivery of lines felt too put on and out of place and I just couldn’t shake that throughout the entire film. She divides her ‘love’ between the two men who in turn surprisingly have no issue in sharing her. The freedom and peace loving lady becomes the subject of a kidnapping that sets the pretence of the film.

Benecio Del Toro as Lado is the man working for the Mexican Baja Cartel and he takes care of all the ‘dirty’ work and everything else that comes in the way. The story when dissected aside is a typical gangster thriller involving drugs and violence. What makes that entire scene look savagely (pun intended) is Del Toro’s character, his no mercy, take no prisoners attitude. He is flawless like always in his delivery and is a joy to watch (even with all that excessive gore). His scenes were the most captivating ones throughout the entire film. The film goes on for over two hours if you must know, and you most definitely do feel the dragging of the story until the end.

I think Stone wanted to capture the raw emotions surrounding the business of drug trafficking. The people involved all lead normal lives and this is just a job that pays the bills. The violence, death, gore is just a part of that lifestyle, and as tragic and scary as that sounds these people just get used to it. I get that and I also get that there is definitely some sort of purpose to seeing the film in that light. It just didn’t affect me like it should have. I loved the cinematography and I loved Del Toro and that’s all. Unfortunately that is not enough to give substance to the film and it overall felt like a long, empty, nicely packaged waste of time.  I hate to say it, but like I said earlier, I wanted to love it and tried to for Oliver Stone’s sake, but it didn’t work. I suggest you just buy the DVD and watch it when you have time to spare. Sadly, a 5.5/10 is all I can give.
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