SPOILERS – I tell you why this movie is only partially worth watching on a Saturday afternoon after severe editing and you’re too lazy to go mow the lawn like your wife told you to before going to Jungle Jimmy’s with the kids.
My friend, Mike, and I went to see Ted tonight and it was sold out. So we went to the almost-maybe next best thing and sat down in the theater to watch Savages, starring John Travolta, Benicio Del Toro, Salma Hayek and the three main characters, played by the guy from John Carter, the kid from Kick-Ass, and Blake Lively. I only remember her because I like the movie Accepted with the kid from Galaxy Quest.
Starting with of a guy’s ass while he pummels his girlfriend into the couch wasn’t my idea of starting a film. No more than starting with the girl’s ass from Transformers III: Revenge of Megan Fox. Roll from sex into some crappy dialogue by the airhead Lively describing that “Just because I’m telling you the story doesn’t mean I’m alive at the end of it. Yeah, it’s that kind of story.” Or was her monologue first? I can’t remember. It was about as valuable as looking at the fella’s bare bottom.
She describes the man working her into the cushions as an Iraq war veteran. While she had orgasms, he had “WAR”gasms. Oooh. Chilling, I know. Then comes home the green lovin’, pot-sciencin’, earth-loving botany grad who turned his love for the weed into a multi-million-dollar business, using his veteran friend as muscle and his own know-how as Mary Jane’s personal God of THC levels (the part that makes you high, for those of you who don’t catch chemical references in context).
And all three of them live in this open love-triangle while living the ultimate life, pre-weed legalization in California. The men aren’t bisexual, but they do share
Enter big drug cartel losing money down south wanting to move into the markets up north, looking to racketize independents along SoCal into their conglomerate — obviously not in any optional manner. The good guys prepare to run, and the bad guys are smart enough to snatch the girl. The ultravaluable, classy, intelligent blonde with boobs.
Now, “O,” as Lively portrays a girl named Ophelia, named after Hamlet’s mother, (Oh noes, old drama with new drama!), knows they’re running to Indonesia to hide from the cartel, within 24 hours, mind-you, and she’s gotta go shopping just ONE last time. A girl raised by an absent mother always running after other men, gets hooked on dope when she’s wicked young. What happens? They kill the guy trying to protect her (the veteran’s former spec ops body helping run interference), and snatch her. They kidnap her to keep the other two in line.
Okay, so to shorten the 2 hr 20 minute film, the guys start finding ways to get back at them while appearing to be falling in line, work a crooked DEA agent, steal the bad guy (girl, actually)’s money, use it to secure the cartel mamacita’s muy bonita hija (daughter) and then set up a trade. Throughout this we watch men die, get tortured, and our own soft-and-cuddly dope farmer have to kill a man he set up of crimes he didn’t commit (though he did commit other crimes elsewhere, in another crappy Spanish drama), and all other sorts of terrible, “savage” behavior.
In the end, when she decides to trade “O” for her daughter, one of the bad guys sets her up, DEA swoops in, the crooked DEA helps our main characters get out as “valuable informants” to cover his own ass, and the sweet love triangle ramps up for the sequel: Trois 5: Indonesian Savages.
And this entire time, I’m watching the film asking myself, why should I, an intelligent, responsible, mostly law-abiding American give two cents about these characters? The girl grew up in a mansion with her well-off mother, felt sorry for her life and destroyed half her brain with dope, hooked up with two rich dope farmers who represented everything a woman wants in a harlot romance novel (as described by our eloquent narratress while saying “Chon (f’d) me, Ben made love to me.” (Cough bullshit) We’re watching a spoiled brainless little girl with two guys who will let her do as she please, with a backup of an obscenely wealthy mother with her own personal satisfaction issues.
Our Iraq veteran wasn’t facing his past and the only moment of describing his PTSD was when he was screwing the girl. Everything else seemed to be working in his favor as he used his spec ops buddies to blow up cartel cars and set up ambushes. Oh, and the token black guy got killed early and like a douche. He had three words!
Ben the brilliant pot geneticist was the most realistic for his part, which made it somewhat even more sad considering he was doing all these stereotypically politically correct things to help poor kids in africa with $15 laptops while ignoring that what they really need is a job and freedom. (That’s too conveniently forgotten by our loving American fix-the-world types.) He grew his pot, made his money, and then gave back to the world.
Ultimately the movie served to worship the beach-living, pot-smoking, counter-culture, under-the-law freethinkers leading empty lives with no value into an action flick regarding a love with no character and commitment without merit.
I kept asking myself, why are they rescuing this brainless girl? I’m not discounting the value of a human life, but these three are living lives commensurate with the deep doo they’re getting themselves into. Am I supposed to feel sorry that a fellow cartel moves in on them? Am I supposed to cheer the guys on when they’re shared beach toy gets popped? Guys who don’t even have a best-friend chemistry that the movie keeps implying they have? Am I supposed to feel sorry that the war vet is soulless, or that the botanist is earthy and in-touch?
What I was impressed with, however, were elements of the film crafted so well together that they made everything I wrote above difficult to see. Whoever sewed the sleeves and trunk and neckline of this outfit knew what they were doing. Dialogue, at times, was clean and smooth, unpredictable and captured the attention. Sequences were interesting and kept your attention. Cliches were kept to a minimum and the bad woman in charge showed some character to her evil ways. She was human, even if some of her servants appeared to be less so. Hayek and Del Toro were the real highlights of the film, not the main characters. Also, John Travolta was great as a smarmy, annoying fellow.
Overall, not worth going to the theater to see, if nothing else because Blake Lively’s character was so annoying in her valuelessness. They were doing all this because of her? I don’t say leave a girl behind, but why were they really involved with her in the first place? Oh yeah.
She was easy and didn’t need their money. Every shallow man’s dream.
And that’s why this film will at least break even.
P.S. If you do decide to watch the film, there’s this section right there at the end that makes you go WTF? When it happens and you go: WTF, I want you to realize you’re looking directly into the brain of the story’s writer. The entire shtick is the romanticized ideal of live for pleasure or die. It’s empty, hollow, and all such people understand. There is no concept of real power in the world in their purview, just a shallow nominality to it all.