Monday 9 July 2012

Movie Review: Savages

Oliver Stone is back but I couldn't help thinking this is Oliver Stone trying to be Guy Ritchie or Quentin Tarantino. Stone is no doubt one of the most significant of directors with such classics under his belt like "Born on the Fourth of July", "Wall Street", "Platoon" and others however here, the stylized gratuitous violence harkens back to the B movie genre made popular again by Tarantino and Rodriguez with their Grindhouse films. I am a firm believer in consulting the ranking on Rotten Tomatoes and with only 53%, this film has not been seen favourably by the critics. I note though that Roger Ebert seems to be an exception giving the film three and half stars out of four. The film may not strike everyone's fancy but if it does, you're going to be pleased?

Even before seeing the film, I was struck with the number of names I knew. Oliver Stone was directing with an ensemble cast that included Taylor Kitsch, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Blake Lively, Salma Hayek, Benicio del Toro and John Travolta. That unto itself is a lot of talent. Nevertheless, at the heart of any good film is a good story and where exactly did that come from?

Don Winslow is a name I am not familiar with but it turns out this gentleman is a full-time writer mostly known for crime and mystery novels. His first published novel "A Cool Breeze on the Underground" came out in 1991 so we're looking at somebody with twenty-one years of experience in the market. His 1997 novel "The Death and Life of Bobby Z" was also turned into a film although it may be a telling coincidence that the film was also not accorded a high rating. Do crime slash mystery novels (Should I use the expression "pulp fiction"?) make for B movies? And should I add is it only a Tarantino who can turn pulp fiction into an A movie?

The results of this cinematic effort I would say is slightly better than the 53% rating on Rotten Tomatoes but I would add that there is something missing. A good film or a great film has a certain spark, a certain je ne sais quoi which captures our attention and connects us to the story. All the components are here, the cast, the cinematography, etc. but they don't seem to gel into a story or characters that you care about. You aren't invested in the proceedings rather you are standing off to one side watching what's going on. You aren't involved. You may like to be involved but you aren't. The fire is smoldering but never bursts into flame.

Final Word
Violence, action, thrills, drama, ensemble cast, world renowned director. Pulp fiction, B movie, good craftsmanship. Some may like this even love this while others, like me, will watch it as a curiosity, not a bad way of spending a Saturday evening curled up on the couch with a bowl of popcorn. However, I'm not going to be spending ten minutes by the water cooler Monday morning running down all the twists and turns in the plot while doing a detailed character analysis to explain the motivations of the protagonists. I won't feel I've wasted my Saturday evening but I will be moving on to something else.


Rotten Tomatoes: Savages: 53%
It's undeniably messy, but Savages finds Oliver Stone returning to dark, fearlessly lurid form.

Wikipedia: Savages
Savages is a 2012 American action thriller film directed by Oliver Stone. It is based on the novel of the same name by Don Winslow. The screenplay was written by Shane Salerno, Stone and Winslow. The film was released on July 6, 2012, and features an ensemble cast including Taylor Kitsch, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Blake Lively, Salma Hayek, Benicio del Toro and John Travolta.

official movie web site: Savages

Wikipedia: Oliver Stone
William Oliver Stone (born September 15, 1946) is an American film director, producer and screenwriter.

Wikipedia: Don Winslow
Don Winslow is an American author most recognized for his crime and mystery novels. Many of his books are set in California. He has published a series of five novels that have a private investigator named Neal Carey as their main character. His most recent book, Savages has attracted critical acclaim, with the New York Times describing it as a "startling bid for attention".

Published on Jun 21, 2012 by SavagesMovie
Savages - Restricted Preview Clip: "Elena confronts Lado"


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