What was I expecting from Oliver Stone’s latest film Savages? Well, I was assuming that Taylor Kitsch and Aaron Taylor-Johnson would be beautiful, that Benicio del Toro and Salma Hayek would be bad-ass, John Travolta would get paid too much for his part, and that a lot of people were going to die. What was I not expecting? Blake Lively’s voice to sound like a cat in an exhaust pipe and her simple presence on the screen to be as irritating as spam e-mail, a teenage boy who refuses to wear deodorant, toilets you have to pay for, and adult acne all rolled into one.
What irked me the most was that her monotonous voice narrated the film and you could not escape it. Every time you thought you were free of her insight and had become thoroughly engaged in the images on-screen and dialogue where Lively is not participating, well she would come back to haunt you, like a bad mark on your school transcript. I cannot express enough how ill cast she was. Kitsch and Taylor-Johnson played their roles to a tee, Kitsch being an ex-military man with incredible anger issues and no remorse, and Taylor-Johnson being a well-educated with deeply rooted spiritual beliefs and an honest heart, which unfortunately is compromised when he has to make decisions to save O’s (Lively) life. What they all have in common, aside from sleeping together, is their passion for cannabis, which ultimately takes Ben, Chon, and O down their dark road. Again, why Ben and Chon’s multi-dimensional characters bothered fighting for O’s bland persona is beyond me. She played nothing more than your typical “Oh, look at me, I am a blonde California girl with too much money and parents who don’t pay attention to me.” Anyone, ANYONE else could have made this character more interesting than she did. The only thing she had going for her was that she was nice to look at on-screen. Thank goodness for Salma Hayek for giving some credibility to female actors, because she was divine, someone you hated but wanted to like at the same time.
I know this is going to sound like I am a teenage boy, but I wish there was more killing in the film. Every time a character was tortured or there was a sizeable slaughter, I was completely enthralled because I think Stone does a great job at depicting carnage and an intense infliction of pain. I also noticed that he had an disfigured eye-fetish which was gruesome but, forgive me, awesome at the same time. The ending(s) was also an interesting twist to the film, though I kind of wish they stuck with the original one because I somehow found it more romantic, emotional, and tragic, instead of the conclusion we are left with which was nicely accompanied by Lively’s high intoxicating voice (rolls eyes) and the attempt to explain what “savages” means. Honestly? I know they think we are a stupid audience, but let us make our own conclusions about what it means, stop dictating your personal thoughts to us. Also, I wished that the editing was a little bit faster at times to increase the intensity and urgency of the ransom situation, instead of slowing it down at points which took away from the extremity of everything that was going on.
Should you see this movie? Definitely, because there are a lot of credible aspects to it. If you are a man, you will like the killing, Hayek’s body and impeccable skin, and looking at Lively while pretending her voice doesn’t exist. If you are a woman, you will more than enjoy Kitsch’s back muscles and masculine persona, and will be swayed to love men who sport studs in their ears, wear hippie-esque headbands to hold back a perfect head of curls, and spread their spiritual beliefs in helping others because Taylor-Johnson somehow makes these things look damn good. I am also partial to his blue eyes, but this is a mere side note.