Slick Savages

With his early drunk journalist flick Salvador, and his recent pro-Hugo Chavez movie South of the Border, a documentary where you actually see the guy who directed Wall Street chew coca leaves and kick a soccer ball around with Bolivian President Evo Morales, it was perhaps only a matter of time before Oliver Stone lent his considerable auteur acumen to the War on Drugs.

Savages, which makes room for a manic, balding John Travolta, balances Stone’s deep knowledge of cannabis as well as his understanding of the cartels. With a plot that involves ex-soldiers turned pot heavies, and visuals that include gasoline martyrs amid amid Skyped executions, Savages is a sordid return to a less serious style of over-the-top storytelling for Stone. This movie, which begins and ends in the “voice over” head noise of a California girl who does not understand what part of Africa she ends up hiding out in, invites a comparison to Three’s Company by way of Stone’s own Natural Born Killers.

Two entrepreneurial pot dealers, who are as different as can be, are in love with the same girl, a junior college drop-out named O (played by a sexy, spaced-out Blake Lively) who has daddy issues. When O---named after the doomed Shakespeare character Ophelia but with all the bondage scenes might as well have been named after the lead character in The Story of O---gets kidnapped, her lovers take drug justice into their own hands.

Savages is a slick flick, something akin to Traffic meets Jackie Brown. But with slow shots of busted eyes hanging out of their sockets, and Benicio del Toro looking like a psycho killer Freddie Fender, and Salma Hayek chewing scenery in some red lingerie and a Cleopatra wig, it is not, like any unregulated substance, something to be taken lightly.

Roberto Ontiveros