Given humanity’s savage roots, it makes sense that two alpha male pot lords, Ben (Aaron Johnson) and Chon (Taylor Kitsch), manage to share one alpha female hippie-chick, Ophelia (Blake Lively). And when I say share, I mean share. How can that be? She loves them both.
Ex-NAVY seal Chon, who verges on the edge of post-traumatic stress disorder, is Ophelia’s earth between her legs, and the free-thinking Ben, who brings computers to kids in Africa, is her soul. It may sound strange, but lovely, waif-life “O,” as she calls herself, seems pretty darn happy about the arrangement.
That is until the Mexican drug cartel tries to make a deal with Ben and Chon that isn’t a fun high. The marijuana seeds Chon brings home from Afghanistan grow pot with a 10 times higher than normal THC level and if the Mexicans are going to remain competitive, they need to get in on some of that. In what may be her best role since Frida, Salma Hayek plays Lorena, the Mexican drug lordess in a dull black wig that keeps her hard head on straight. She’s tough and has a penchant for chopping off heads. So when she kidnaps O, it’s a whole new drug deal. But that's where Savages succeeds -- in facing the dark, greedy, power-hungry side of humanity head on.
John Travolta turns on the slime as the dirty D.E.A. who may or may not have Ben and Chon’s back. A wonderfully ugly Benicio Del Toro plays Lado, Lorena’s creepy henchman. Director Oliver Stone manages to turn an amoral threesome into a believable love story amidst the blood and violence.
Bottom line: If graphic torture scenes and taking out kneecaps isn’t your thing, you’ll want to skip this one. But if you like watching vibrant, well-defined characters descend into savagery, there’s a movie ticket with your name on it.
Photo credit: Universal Studios