Commentary

July 20, 2012

In theaters

Fly Over: ‘Savages’

by Capt. Tristan Hinderliter

In “Savages,” legendary filmmaker Oliver Stone has created a devastating American masterpiece of epic proportions. Based on the novel of the same name by Don Winslow and with a crackling screenplay co-written by Stone, Winslow and Shane Salerno, “Savages” is a seminal movie on what U.S./Mexican relations have pivoted on in the 21st Century: the drug trade.

The brutally violent bloodbath of a roller-coaster ride screams along at a blistering pace for the two hour, 10 minute run time.

Part “Traffic,” part “Natural Born Killers,” this is the story of two men fighting a ruthless Mexican drug cartel for the woman they both love.

The men are Ben (Aaron Johnson), a Berkley graduate who specializes in growing high-grade marijuana, and Chon (Taylor Kitsch), a former Navy SEAL. The longtime friends live in Laguna Beach, where they inexplicably share a girlfriend, Ophelia (Blake Lively), a beautiful blonde from Orange County with rich, absent parents. Despite the unlikely arrangement, the three seem to have a happy, albeit unconventional, relationship.

Ben is a peace-loving philanthropist who uses the proceeds from their drug business to pursue renewable energy resources in third-world countries. Ophelia, who narrates the film in voiceover, says Ben had taken 99 percent of the violence out of the drug trade. The hot-headed but cool-under-pressure Chon was responsible for the remaining 1 percent.

With aims of getting out of the drug business, the men rebuff an offer to join forces with the Baja Cartel, which controlled much of the drug trade south of the border. The Mexicans, however, don’t take no for an answer, and thugs kidnap Ophelia in an attempt to force the men to comply with their demands.

The Baja Cartel is controlled by a woman named Elena (a steely-eyed Salma Hayek), whose husband and sons had been killed years before by a rival cartel. Elena runs Baja with an iron fist, and her chief enforcer is a ruthless sociopath, Lado (Benicio Del Toro).

The Puerto Rican-born Del Toro, 45, is a tour de force and should be nominated for best supporting actor for this shattering, powerhouse performance. When a fellow cartel member (Demian Bichir) is suspected of colluding with a rival organization, Lado orchestrates a retaliation that makes the torture scene in “Reservoir Dogs” look as tame as the latest Kate Hudson romantic comedy.

As Ben and Chon try to devise a way to recapture Ophelia from the cartel, they regularly meet with a corrupt DEA agent, Dennis (John Travolta, who delivers a brilliant performance in this small role). Without offering any spoilers, what follows next is a wild ride of explosions, drugs and violence. The moral, as Clint Eastwood said about his 1992 Western “Unforgiven,” is the concern with gunplay.

The film is shot beautifully, often lingering over Laguna Beach, with seagulls hovering on the wind, waves crashing into the shore, and hundreds of boats lined up neatly in the harbor.

“Savages” is Oliver Stone at his best. If you can handle it, don’t miss it.

“Savages” is a hard R, for violence, sex, nudity, language and drug use. Not for the faint of heart.



About the Author

Capt. Tristan Hinderliter
Capt. Tristan Hinderliter
Tristan Hinderliter is a full-time Public Affairs Officer and part-time pop culture critic. When he's not listening to the Adam Carolla Podcast, he's usually watching movies. His favorite directors include David Lynch, Paul Thomas Anderson, the Coen Brothers, Martin Scorsese, David Fincher and Alexander Payne.


All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
141020-SMSgt-Shelly-Bailey-8x10-DW

Path to inspirational leadership evolving skillset

Senior Master Sgt. Shelly Bailey At some point in our Air Force career we will assume a leadership role. Leadership is an ever-evolving skillset that you will continue to develop throughout the course of your career. The highes...
 
 

Bridges: build, don’t burn

Have you heard the phrase “don’t burn your bridges?” This idiom is used to describe the importance of not ending a relationship on a bad note. In this case, the relationship is your military career. For example, when you build professional relationships you are networking or laying the foundation for the building of a bridge....
 
 

Red Ribbon reminder to be drug free

Drug Enforcement Administration agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena was kidnapped, tortured and brutally murdered on Feb. 7, 1985, by Mexican drug traffickers. After the murder of Agent Camarena citizens of his hometown of Calexico, California, wore red ribbons in his honor. This marked the beginning of the oldest and most visible prevention awareness campaign in the...
 

 

Dollars and Sense

As a new government employee, you have the opportunity to save for your retirement through the Thrift Savings Plan. The TSP is similar to a 401(k) plan in the private sector. Participating in the TSP is easy. You can use the electronic version, such as EBIS or myPay, or fill out the Form TSP-1 (www.tsp.gov/PDF/formspubs/tsp-1.pdf)....
 
 

Chaplain’s thoughts …

It has been said that when you are struggling you are growing. We see this in athletic pursuits. No one achieves improvement or excellence by lounging about. Rather it is as we push our physical limits that we improve our performance. We see this in our academic endeavors. While our basic intelligence may be static...
 
 
Abraham_Lincoln_Vampire_Hunter_Cover

Fly Over: ‘Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter’ and ‘Gone Girl’

In bookstores: ‘Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter’ Mashup novel has bite but eventually turns to dust *Warning! This review may contain spoilers. ‘Tis the season for books, movies and TV shows featuring the scary, s...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin