"Savages" will entertain but not stimulate your brain

Movie review
By: Frank Miller Special to The News Messenger
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?Savages? Directed by Oliver Stone Cast: Taylor Kitsch, Blake Lively and Salma Hayek Rating: Three out of five stars ?Savages? will entertain but not stimulate your brain An ineffective war on drugs and the prevalence of marijuana use for medicinal purposes paints a portrait of the drug trade becoming as corporate as stopping off at Walmart for an over-sized bag of beef jerky. Except at Walmart, they don?t cut off your fingers if you buy the wrong brand. ?Savages,? the new film from director Oliver Stone, tells the story of two young entrepreneurial pot growers, Ben and Chon, who cross paths with a Mexican cartel that wants their business. After refusing a partnership deal, the cartel kidnaps Ben and Chon?s shared girlfriend and holds her hostage in exchange for compliance. Anxious to prove they?re not pushovers, the boys attempt to turn the tables and wrest power back in their favor while trying to save their girlfriend from a grisly death. The film is often quite violent in its portrayal of the cartel?s dealings with those who stand in their way. Loyalty only goes so far and everyone has a sharp eye on their own interests, no matter the consequences to others. ?Savages? contains a number of thrilling scenes that are sure to send chills down your spine with its penchant for gritty realism. However, where the film struggles is in its portrayal of the relationship between the three lead characters. We?re supposed to buy that Ben and Chon love each other enough to share their girlfriend but glimpses into this dynamic are often superficial and don?t explain the bond that they share. There is also shoddy and problematic narration by Blake Lively who, while easy on the eyes, isn?t compelling enough as an actress to give weight to a clumsily-worded script. ?Savages? shows glimpses of being an occasionally brilliant crime film but is held back by clichés and often poor dialogue. However, the film still manages to be a rollicking slice of entertainment. While it may not stimulate your brain, it will certainly overload your senses. Frank Miller is a Sacramento writer.