There is nothing particularly new about Oliver Stone’s Savages: the usual good guys want out of the rackets and the usual bad guys won’t let them leave, there’s the usual one last job before retirement, the usual endless betrayals and double crosses till you neither know nor care what anybody is up to, the usual big orange explosions, the traditional blonde heroine and black-haired villainess, the requisite car chases, and the criminal superorganization that has the whole physical world bugged so you can’t go the john without being taped, but also the villains who never thing to set up sentries or at least turn around once in a while to see an army sneaking up.
There are a few novelties like a narrator who warns us not to assume she survives in the end and trick ending right out of Tom Jones, but that’s not enough to make old stuff new, and homages like John Travolta motormouthing the way he did in Pulp Fiction and Salma Hayek blackhaired and banged like Uma Thurman in the same are neither pointed nor particularly fun.
The violence is too brutal for my taste, but at least Benicio del Toro makes his sadistic killer a character, like Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men; the only other role in Savages that shows much characterization is Salma Hayek’s, and too much of her character is a matter of narrated backstory. In a word, I see nothing to get fussed about in Savages.
Still, there are a few points of interest. The threesome with Taylor Kitsch, Aaron Johnson, and Blake Lively is presented almost as a little Eden, and the longer Blake Lively is held captive by Hayek and del Toro, the less attractive she looks, as her makeup wears off and her features coarsen.