You’d think the discipline of genre would be a tonic for Oliver Stone, quelling his well-known artistic demons. You’d think.
But don’t think that going into “Savages,” Ollie’s oddly off-the-beat new movie. It’s a bloody drug-war story, set in California and Mexico, and it gets underway with style and energy; but clouds of narrative confusion begin to gather early on, and at the end they blot out the sky.
The movie is based on a novel by Don Winslow, who wrote the script with his partner Shane Salerno and–part of the film’s problem, possibly–Stone himself.
It begins, after some grippingly lurid opening carnage, in the laid-back Orange County surf town of Laguna Beach, where longtime friends Ben (Aaron Johnson) and Chon (Taylor Kitsch, fully recovered from John Carter) live in a luxury pad high above the breakers with their mutual girlfriend Ophelia (Blake Lively), affectionately known as O.
Ben, a neo-hippie botanist and business head, and Chon, a former Navy SEAL, have built a sprawling marijuana empire around a custom-bred strain of high-powered weed. They’ve made millions. But now the violent Baja drug cartel, headquartered in Tijuana, has made known its intention to expand across the border and move in on Ben and Chon’s operation.
Read the full review at Reason.com.