Savages: Unrated [Blu-Ray] Oliver Stone

Savages: Unrated [Blu-Ray]Oliver Stone
Though well into his 60s, Oliver Stone still hasn't outgrown the typically undergraduate need to tackle controversial issues with maximum idealism, asserting edginess and realism, and a clumsy need to be accepted, into criticisms of a system that affords him the ability to make indulgent films. Conversely, he likes to tackle the standard biopic, on occasion, attempting to deconstruct or demystify larger than life figures by exaggerating some of their less admirable traits. With Savages, Stone is stepping more into U-Turn and Natural Born Killers territory, realizing that his more overt attempts at preaching his politics (W, Wall Street 2) haven't served him well of late. And in embracing his old, "hip" self, he's also regressed, in a sense, stylizing this thinly veiled metaphor of a movie with childish flash and unnecessarily violent gratuity, all while featuring pretty young people smoking weed and having sex relentlessly. In short, it's desperate and transparent. Based, in concept, on the Don Winslow novel of the same name, this story of American opportunism, exploitation and greed details a working threesome, with educated pothead Ben (Aaron Johnson) and stoic, scarred army boy Chon (Taylor Kitsch) taking turns porking the strangely blank O (Blake Lively). Living on the beach — living "the dream" — they make money by smuggling Afghani marijuana seeds into the country, thus growing and distributing weed with an astoundingly high percentage of tetrahydrocannabinol. But, in exploiting the products of another country for their gain and indulgence, they draw the attention of a Mexican cartel run by the survivalist, tough-as-nails Elena (Salma Hayek), which leads to the kidnapping of O and the de-evolution of her two stoned boyfriends, who turn into "savages" in order to get her back. With excess lens flares, shifts in film grain, endless candid angles and gory close-ups of bullet holes aplenty, Savages does its best to recapture the stylized superficiality of the Pulp Fiction era and its crass sensationalism. Nothing about this work is sincere, even when Elena, a functioning sociopath, turns to O and tells her she has "botox of the heart." There are scenes with John Travolta (a DEA agent being bought off by Ben and Chon) sitting tearfully with his dying wife, just as there are moments when the boys admit they love each other — something obvious considering they would need to love each other more than O if they're willing to share her — but it's all laughable and shallow. These clichéd ciphers of characters are mere archetypes for a story that, save it's bland capitalist critique, is derivative. The Blu-Ray supplements, which include some deleted scenes (most of which are included in the Unrated version of the film) and a brief, chaptered "making of" don't expand much on intended depth, instead talking about casting and how the adaptation came to be. (Universal)