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.


 
 

 

The gift of leadership

Gen. Mark Welsh III may have said it best, “Leadership is a gift. It’s given by those who follow. You have to be worthy of it.” As the people of this nation give their children up to serve in the armed forces we as leaders need to be ready to lead them as they are...
 
 

Have faith in Air Force system

Throughout our Air Force careers, we have all received extensive training covering the Air Force core values — integrity first, service before self and excellence in all we do. We talk about them on a daily basis in one capacity or another using them as buzz words to drive our point home or steer a...
 
 

Chaplain’s thoughts …

Mercy and a Romanian MP Last year while deployed to a NATO base in Afghanistan, a Romanian military police officer stopped my chaplain assistant and me for passing a bus that had pulled off the road. He came to the window and said, “You can’t overtake bus. ID and vehicle papers, please.” Since I was...
 

 
FO_Dark_Souls_II_cover

Fly Over: ‘R.I.P.D.’ and ‘Dark Souls II’

On Netflix ‘R.I.P.D.’ R.I.P.D. stars Ryan Reynolds (Det. Sgt. Nick Walker), Kevin Bacon (Det. Lt. Bobby Hayes), Jeff Bridges (Roycephus “Roy” Pulsipher), Stephanie Szostak (Julia) and Mary-Louise Parker (R.I.P.D. Chief ...
 
 

Planning for your future equals success

“If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. If you can dream it, you can become it.” ~ William Arthur Ward Success does not happen accidentally, it takes detailed planning and a vision of the future. I remember the day before I left for basic military training, I tried to imagine what my future...
 
 

Tuition assistance — a great benefit

In my opinion, tuition assistance is one of the best benefits that we as active-duty military members have available. During my 17 years in the Air Force, I have seen this benefit increase from 75 percent of tuition being paid to 100 percent. Additionally, most of us experienced this benefit being eliminated for a short...
 




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