Now playing: Savages

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Aaron Johnson, John Travolta, and Taylor Kitsch in Oliver Stones Savages
  • Aaron Johnson, John Travolta, and Taylor Kitsch in Oliver Stone's Savages
A brutal Mexican drug cartel tries to muscle in on the booming pot business of two Laguna Beach dudes (Taylor Kitsch, Aaron Johnson), whose partnership includes a laid-back menage-a-trois with a bronzed So-Cal beauty (Blake Lively); when the Americans refuse to cooperate, the Mexicans kidnap the woman and threaten to behead her. The movie marks Oliver Stone’s return to the hyperbolic drug thrillers of his early screenwriting career (Midnight Express, Scarface), and the dualistic protagonists—Kitsch, an Iraq War veteran, helps Johnson, a genial hippie, find his inner beast—are heavily reminiscent of Platoon (though the script was adapted from a novel by Don Winslow). The true schism here, however, is between the brainless fun of the action plot and Stone’s cheap exploitation of the cartels’ real-life sadism. With Salma Hayek, John Travolta, and Benicio del Toro as a murderous goon who literally twirls his mustache.

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