Savages has arrived on unrated Blu-ray from Universal Home Entertainment. I see so many movies in theaters throughout the year that I'm able to later review on Blu-ray. Oliver Stone's Savages is one film that I did not check out on the big screen, but I wish that I had. The all-star cast includes Taylor Kitsch, Salma Hayek, Benicio Del Toro, Blake Lively, Aaron Johnson and John Travolta.
Based on the book by Don Winslow, the film is set in Laguna Beach, California and follows two independent pot dealers who get in way over their heads after crossing paths with the Mexican cartel. The dealers are played by Ben (Johnson), who is a Buddhist and his best friend Chon (Kitsch), a former Navy SEAL who grows and sells some of the best marijuana on the market. They have an interesting love triangle going on with Ophelia (Lively). After growing to such a large scale they catch the attention of the cartel boss Elena (Hayek), and her violent muscle Lado (Del Toro). On top of that, they have to contend with a DEA Agent (Travolta) that is playing both sides of the law.
The unrated version has plenty of gritty violence, and is definitely not for the squeamish. The action sequences were done so well, and it is obvious that a lot of choreography went into the scenes. Benicio del Toro is a believable villain as Lado.
Savages is a good film, but not great. I enjoyed the action, the story and the characters, but cannot stand a movie that has a voice narration throughout. That is basically lazy storytelling, in my opinion. I don't need someone to guide me through what is happening on screen if the story and script are doing what they are meant to do. One of the main problems is that they had to cut over 30 minutes to get the film down to a marketable length.
This disc has the fewest amount of special features included. The deleted scenes are actually scenes I would have rather seen included in the film to add to the character development -- which is lacking. The Making Of Featurettes are the coolest and rawest look at a film set I have seen lately. I liked watching these better than the commentary, so I recommend checking it out. There were an amazing amount of consultants on the film, from DEA Agents, to military personnel, computer hackers, and even a cannabis consultant. Believe it or not, no real marijuana was used during the filming. Even though the movie was shot in California, where medical marijuana is legal, if real grass was used they could have been sued.
I am a huge fan of movies that take you inside the drug culture, so Savages is a treat on many levels. It is not on the same level as a movie like Blow, but in terms of a drug saga it has some epic elements and a great cast. It is a shame that Taylor Kitsch has had such bad luck transitioning to the big screen from Friday Night Lights. This is one of his best roles, aside from John Carter, which I actually enjoyed.