MOVIE REVIEW: Savages

Starring: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Taylor Kitsch, Blake Lively 
Director:  Oliver Stone
Genre: Drama
Runtime: 131 minutes

In Holland, weed is legal (except, strangely, for growing). We can go to a ‘coffee’-shop and buy the stuff. Not so in the United States. Growing, selling and  smoking is illegal (save for Washington and Colorado, since November 6th). The drugs-market is controlled by criminals. Not just some criminals, but mostly Mexican gangbangers. The kind that will rip your throat out if you ever cross their paths on a bad day. And put a video of it on the internet. And dump your body below the freeway.

Well, not Ben (Aaron Taylor-Johnson; Kickass, Nowhere Boy) and Chon (Taylor Kitsch; John Carter, Battleship). Best friends, business partners, partners in crime and somewhat disturbingly in a relationship with the same girl, simply called ‘O’ (Blake Lively; Gossip Girl, The Town). They are good at what they do, grow and distribute weed. Some say they are the best. But what happens when a Mexican cartel is planning a hostile takeover of their enterprises?

This movie is all about survival. Trying to stay alive in a hostile world, and everything you have to do in order to do so. For instance, bribing a DEA-agent (John Travolta). Or stealing from Kingpin ‘Elena’ (Salma Hayek), only to blame it on her subordinate Lado (Benicio Del Toro). As you can see, this movie is riddled with A-list actors. Even Emile Hirsch (Into the Wild) plays a small role as a former Wallstreet smart kid. Every role is supremely cast. Especially Benicio del Toro shines as the sadistic Lado.

The film takes a while to introduce all the characters, but that didn’t bother me. I like a little bit of back story to characters. Instead of saying “Okay, this is person A. He does this because that’s who he is”, this movie makes sure you know why the characters do things the way they do. You instantly know their reasons, their doubts and their fears. A great way to build rapport with the characters, and it is done absolutely wonderfully.

I’ve given away a bit about the story already, but without context it doesn’t matter. I’m not going to give you the context, but know that this movie is an emotional rollercoaster. It toys with your feelings, throwing them one way at first, and then immediately in the other direction. Sometimes, this feels a little bit forced and unnecessary. There’s one big ‘lolwut?!’ moment, and you’ll know exactly which part I’m talking about once you’ve this movie.

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