by Jake Mulligan

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday November 6, 2012

Few directors are as hit-and-miss as Oliver Stone. Here's a guy whose wowed critics and exhilarated audiences with stunning pictures like "Salvador," "Platoon," and "Any Given Sunday." Yet he also made "Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps." Just saying that title out loud; I realize that it sounds more like a B-rate "Saturday Night Live" sketch than an actual movie. Luckily, "Savages" returns this angry old man to his pulpy roots.

It's a twisty plot the likes of which could hardly be broached in an essay, so I'll keep it brief: Ben (Aaron Johnson,) Chon (Taylor Kitsch,) and their mutual girlfriend O (Blake Lively,) make incredible pot. Salma Hayek, Benecio Del Toro, and their Mexican cartel want a slice. Business goes bad, commentary on the Drug War (both in America and Mexico) is had, and violence abounds.

The aesthetics are surprisingly reigned in - Stone's editing, while fast, isn't as acid-trip-incomprehensible as it once was - and the plot mechanics force him to focus on the characters. For better or worse, "Savages" is pared down Stone - but you should still expect a bit of his trademark ultraviolence. That's why you should skip the useless "unrated cut" and stick to the theatrical - it only adds scenes of dialogue (there's nothing new here that would push it past an R rating) and bloats a film that was already bordering on overlong.

Past the irrelevant extra cut, the deleted scenes are comparatively useless - covering ground Stone handled in other scenes, adding needless exposition, redundant voiceovers, etc. And not a sight of Uma Thurman, who performed as O's mother but was subsequently cut out of the film - and apparently, out of any record of the film's production whatsoever.

A commentary with a droll, insane sounding Stone (he tells stories about the War, getting blacked out in Mexico, and having a Vietnamese girl jump out of his birthday cake earlier this year) rounds out the package nicely. But if you take a look at these "Savages," I'd suggest watching the theatrical cut and leaving the rest of the disc unexplored.

Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack


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