Starring: Taylor Kitsch, Aaron Johnson, Blake Lively, Salma Hayek, Benicio Del Toro

Director: Oliver Stone

Rating: 3/5

An Oliver Stone movie is always something to look forward to because you never quite know what you are going to get.

Savages marks the return to the director's chair for Stone for the first time since Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps as he tackles the crime/thriller once again.

Laguna Beach entrepreneurs Ben (Johnson), a peaceful and charitable Buddhist, and his closest friend Chon (Kitsch), a former Navy SEAL and ex-mercenary, run a lucrative, homegrown industry-raising some of the best marijuana ever developed. They also share a one-of-a-kind love with the extraordinary beauty Ophelia (Lively).

Life is idyllic in their Southern California town...until the Mexican Baja Cartel decides to move in and demands that the trio partners with them.

When the merciless head of the BC, Elena (Hayek), and her brutal enforcer, Lado (Del Toro), underestimate the unbreakable bond among these three friends, Ben and Chon-with the reluctant, slippery assistance of a dirty DEA agent (Travolta)-wage a seemingly unwinnable war against the cartel.

Savages is a movie that does work on some levels but not on others and perhaps it is a little bit of a missed opportunity on Stone's part.

Kitsch and Johnson deliver great central performances and there is a genuine chemistry between the pair.

Chon may be damaged from war but there is something quite charming about his character. And Kitsch juggles the two sides of his character's personality well and can turn on the psychopathic murderer in a heartbeat.

Johnson also delivers a strong performance as Ben a man who is an idealist and an optimist and really the emotional core of this film.

This is a man who steadily throws all of those ideals out of the window as he is dragged into a world that corrupts him and turns him into something else.

As you might expect Benicio Del Toro turns in a terrifying performance as the violent Lado while Salma Hayek has an interesting role as the cartel matriarch.

But Blake Lively is the real weak link for me as there is just something about her performance that just doesn't click for me.

She is there as the driving force behind Ben and Chon's actions but does little else - not to mention her narrative is really irritating.

While the violence is hard hitting there is not enough of it and as the movie suffers from some real pacing issues.

However the cinematography in this movie is stunning and acts as a great backdrop to the movie.

Savages tries to be hard-hitting and brutal and while at times it does achieve that it ends up being a little predictable.

Savages is out now

FemaleFirst Helen Earnshaw

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