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Ten Word or Less Review : Throwing rocks at Stone.

The downward trajectory of Oliver Stone movies has been pretty obvious for the last decade.  The debacle of Alexander and the collective yawns heard from audiences who watched Wall Street 2, World Trade Center and W have saddled the one time king of energetic, provocative mainstream cinema with a reputation for being a tepid old hippy incapable of making anything audiences care to see.  Then the preview for Savages appeared and a glimmer of hope broke through the fog.  Maybe a sordid tale of drugs, violence and sex would inspire the great man to knock the rust off his gears and apply a little energy back into his cinematic life.  If that’s what you were hoping for throw those hopes aside.

If Savages proves anything it’s that Stone is still lost in a haze of meandering narrative.  It runs a grossly unnecessary 140 minutes and is crippled by not only an unwieldy and dragging pace, but three leads who make all the impression of a blank paper piece of paper pinned to a wall announcing nothing.  Blake Lively (Green Lantern), Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Kick-Ass) and 2012’s favorite whipping boy Taylor Kitsch (John Carter, Battleship) play off each other with the all energy of a pack of dead batteries.  Yes, their characters are supposed to be stoned but that’s no excuse to be boring.  Sturdy pros Benicio Del Toro and John Travolta would make fine fodder for a better movie somewhere else.  Though superior and far more tweaked than their leads might be, their satellite narratives drag things out to ridiculous levels.  Momentum killer, thy name is subplot.  And as if not content to have overloaded his movie with scores of tedious coming and going, Stone goes and tacks on one of the most chicken shit endings ever seen in a mainstream movie.  The gall it took to slap the audience in the face like this right as some nugget of respect may have been achieved is the last proof that I need to show that Stone has become a spineless filmmaker.  Bonnie and Clyde might as well have gotten up and yelled ‘Missed us!’ and drove off.

A thrilling romp of sex and violence needs to run 90 minutes, maybe 100.  True Romance ran two hours but that movie is the gold standard for a picture like this.  In the hands of a more youthful spirit with a bit more edge and something to prove, and better casting, Savages could have been the nasty, pulpy piece of B-movie schlock it so clearly was meant to be.  Poor Tony Scott could have delivered the appropriate sleaziness it needed in his sleep.  Instead we get a movie which lies on the ground like a corpse.  Stone has the defibrillator out, paddles at the ready yelling clear, trying to shock life into his creation, but no one’s told him his battery is dead.



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