Savages (2012 film)
|Directed by||Oliver Stone|
|Produced by||Moritz Borman
|Screenplay by||Shane Salerno
by Don Winslow
Benicio del Toro
|Music by||Adam Peters|
|Editing by||Joe Hutshing
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Running time||131 minutes|
Savages is a 2012 American crime 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, Winslow and Stone. The film was released on July 6, 2012, and stars Taylor Kitsch, Blake Lively, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Demian Bichir, Benicio del Toro, Salma Hayek, John Travolta, and Emile Hirsch.
Best friends Chon (Taylor Kitsch) and Ben (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) are marijuana growers living in Laguna Beach, California. Chon, a former Navy SEAL, smuggled the seeds for the plants out of Afghanistan, and got help in cultivating them from Ben, a graduate of University of California, Berkeley in business and botany. These seeds yielded a particularly potent strain of marijuana that soon developed a wide customer base and made Chon and Ben very wealthy, with Ben devoting time and money to doing charity work in Africa and Asia. The two are in a polyamorous relationship with Ophelia Sage (Blake Lively).
The trio receive a video from Mexican cartel enforcer Miguel "Lado" Arroyo (Benicio del Toro). The video shows several severed heads and a chainsaw, and demands a meeting. The cartel offers a partnership, but Chon and Ben offer to hand over their network and get out of the business. The cartel wants their expertise and insists on a partnership, Chon and Ben make plans with Ophelia to leave and go to Indonesia for a year, not telling her that they are fleeing from the cartel. Chon and Ben speak to corrupt DEA agent Dennis Cain (John Travolta) who urges them to partner with the cartel. Ophelia is kidnapped by Lado's crew. Chon and Ben are notified of Ophelia's kidnapping via a video call from cartel leader Elena Sánchez (Salma Hayek), who threatens to harm Ophelia before again urging the two to partner with the cartel.
Chon and Ben speak with Dennis about the situation, who informs them that Elena is facing the loss of her political connections in Mexico, thus her efforts to move into the US. She has already lost her entire family, with the exception of her daughter, Magda (Sandra Echeverria). Chon stabs Dennis in the hand, ordering Dennis to provide DEA intel so Ben and Chon can retaliate against Elena. With help from Chon's Navy SEAL friends, the duo attacks a cartel truck, killing seven of Elena's men. The duo decides to frame Alex (Demián Bichir), a high-ranking member of the cartel, for the murders. With help from Dennis, they falsify the evidence and give it to Lado, who tortures Alex before forcing Ben to immolate him. While being tortured, the man begs for his life "on Magda", revealing to Chon and Ben that Elena's daughter is still alive.
Ophelia has been kept in horrible living conditions and demands to speak to someone. Lado drugs and rapes Ophelia while recording it, later showing her the video of it. Elena later brings her to her estate to have someone to talk to. Meanwhile, Ben and Chon bribe Dennis for information on Magda, ultimately paying him $3 million for the information and the name of his snitch in Elena's cartel. After kidnapping Magda, Ben and Chon video call Elena, establishing that they are now in control. With Elena at their mercy, the two arrange a meeting, at which point both Ophelia and Magda will be released. The exchange is set to occur in the middle of the desert, with snipers from both sides prepared to fire. Elena requests to know the identity of the man who revealed the location of her daughter, and Chon reveals that it was Lado.
Elena attempts to kill Lado, but he shoots her first. An intense firefight erupts, with Chon being shot several times. Lado is shot in the back by Ben, but manages to shoot Ben in the neck before being killed by Ophelia. With Ben mortally wounded, Chon injects Ben, himself, and Ophelia with a fatal overdose, so the three can die together. It is then revealed that this sequence is how Ophelia feared the events would transpire. In reality, Lado steals Elena's car and drives off as DEA agents arrive, led by Dennis. Everyone, except Lado and Magda, at the meeting is arrested, but since Ben possesses incriminating information on Dennis, Dennis names Ben and Chon as his informants for the past six years, leading to them being released. Elena is sentenced to thirty years in prison, and El Azul and Lado create a new cartel called "The Azulados". Ben, Chon and Ophelia leave the country together and live "like savages" in Indonesia.
- Taylor Kitsch as Chon
- Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Ben
- Blake Lively as Ophelia "O" Sage
- Salma Hayek as Elena Sánchez
- Benicio del Toro as Miguel "Lado" Arroyo
- John Travolta as Dennis Cain
- Demián Bichir as Alex
- Sandra Echeverria as Magdalena Sánchez
- Emile Hirsch as Spin
- Joaquín Cosio as El Azul
- Mía Maestro as Dolores Arroyo
- Amber Dixon as Sophía
- Shea Whigham as Chad
- Joel David Moore as Craig
- Diego Cataño as Estéban
- Trevor Donovan as Matt
- Ralph Echemendia as Wiley
- Jake McLaughlin as Doc
- Alexander Wraith as Sam
- Antonio Jaramillo as Jaime
- Sean Stone as Eric
- Uma Thurman as Paqu Sage
By August 2011, the film was shooting in the Pacific Palisades neighborhood of Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Times reported: "The estate's indoor pool was converted into a massive hydroponic marijuana farm for the film's production, with about 300 high-octane pot plants jamming the covert nursery." Production designer Tomas Voth, said: "I wanted to use real plants and had them all ready to go, but it was some legal thing. Universal told us to use fakes." The sex scenes were filmed during the first three days. The film entered post-production in October 2011.
Jennifer Lawrence was originally cast as Ophelia, but dropped out due to scheduling conflicts. Other actresses considered to replace Lawrence included Olivia Wilde, Teresa Palmer, and Abbie Cornish. In April 2011, it was reported that Blake Lively had been cast as Ophelia. Before casting Taylor Kitsch in the film, Oliver Stone asked director Peter Berg to show him 30 minutes of Kitsch's work in Battleship to see how he was as a leading man, and after seeing that footage, he cast him. Trevor Donovan originally auditioned for a role that was cut but after seeing Donovan's tape, Stone specifically wrote him a part that was not in the book. Uma Thurman played Ophelia's mother, Paqu, but her scenes were cut due to time constraints.
Savages received mixed reviews from critics. Based on 168 reviews collected by aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes, the film scored a 51% approval rating, with an average rating of 5.7/10. The site's critical consensus is, "It's undeniably messy, but Savages finds Oliver Stone returning to dark, fearlessly lurid form." Metacritic, another review aggregator which assigns a weighted mean rating in the 0–100 range based on reviews from top mainstream critics, calculated an average score of 59, based on 41 reviews, which indicates "Mixed or average reviews".
The film was somewhat more well received in Europe. UK film and music journalist Dylan B Jones praised it, claiming director Oliver Stone had found "a magic strain of sultry sex, frantically emotional turmoil and glossily savvy action sequences."
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film three and a half stars (out of four) and praised Oliver Stone's direction, saying, "Much of the fascination of "Savages" comes through Stone's treatment of the negotiations, which involve percentages, sliding scales over three years, an ultimate payout, and other financial details that drugs have in common with big business. It's spellbinding to watch the two sides trying to outthink each other."
HitFix's film critic Drew McWeeny gave the film an A- and called it "one of the most complete pleasures for me this summer". He was in general positive of the actors' performances; he described Lively's work as "smart and sad precisely because she plays O as such a broken, needy little soul" and praised the bond between Kitsch and Taylor-Johnson which "seems not only credible but lived in and authentic throughout the film." McWeeny noted the evolution in maturity of Taylor-Johnson since Kick-Ass while writing that Kitsch was used the right way in this film with an ensemble that pushes him or challenges him in scenes which resulted in him playing hard, playing intense.
In comparison, MovieFix's film critic Connor Jason gave the film 2/5, noting that "Savages is a hot mess – beautiful actors and locations mixed with a plot that starts strong but ultimately turns into a snooze-fest. With a lead villain seemingly ripped from the cover of Cosmo magazine, Stone's latest flick savagely disappoints."
The film was nominated at the 2012 ALMA Awards in four categories including "Favorite Movie Actor", "Favorite Movie Actress—Drama/Adventure", "Favorite Movie Actor—Supporting Role", and "Favorite Movie Actress—Supporting Role" for Benicio Del Toro, Salma Hayek, Demián Bichir and Mia Maestro, respectively.
On its opening weekend, the film ranked fourth at the box-office, earning $16.2 million. As of April 3, 2013 it has grossed $47,382,068 in North America and $35,584,084 in other countries, for a worldwide total of $82,966,152.
Savages was released on DVD and Blu-ray on November 13, 2012.
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- Official website
- Savages at allmovie
- Savages at Box Office Mojo
- Savages at the Internet Movie Database
- Savages at Metacritic
- Savages at Rotten Tomatoes
- Soundtrack-movie.com Savages soundtrack link