Directed By: Oliver Stone

Starring: Taylor Kitsch, Aaron Johnson, Blake Lively, Salma Hayek, Benicio del Toro, Emile Hirsch, and John Travolta

We're at the peak of the summer movie season.  There is something for everybody right now.  We've got a lot in theaters, but we really hadn't had a movie that gets down and dirty in a bloody, brutal way until now.  This weekend Oliver Stone comes to fill this void with his new movie Savages.  With all the sex, drugs, and guns in this flick, you'll certainly get your fill of blood and brutality.

Ben (Aaron Johnson) and Chon (Taylor Kitsch) are lifelong friends.  Having known each other for years, the two run a successful marijuana business in California.  They're known for making high quality weed and having a peaceful operation.  Ben, an alumnus of Berkeley who studied business and botany, is the brains of their operation, while Chon, a former Navy SEAL, is the brawns.  Beyond their life in the drug business, Ben and Chon share their love life, namely their girlfriend Ophelia (Blake Lively).  The boys love her, and she loves them. 

When Elena Sánchez (Salma Hayek), who also goes by the moniker of "Elena La Reina", makes Ben and Chon and offer they can't refuse to join her drug cartel, Ben and Chon have a big decision to make.  They turn to their longtime ally Dennis (John Travolta), a corrupt DEA agent, for advice on how to deal with the situation at hand.  He advises him to take the deal.  When the boys eventually refuse Elena’s offer, she has her henchman Miguel "Lado" Arroyo (Benicio del Toro) take their girlfriend Ophelia hostage.  As the situation escalates, Ben and Chon decide to play more like their savage foes.  Meanwhile, Elena continues to fight a drug war in Mexico against fellow drug lord El Azul (Joaquín Cosio).

With Savages, Oliver Stone returns to making ultra-violent films.  In all honesty, this bloody movie is a welcome addition to an otherwise “PG” summer movie season.  He gives us countless murders, vicious torture, and decapitated cadavers.  Stone's visceral film Savages lives up to its name.  There is one major issue with the film, however — the ending.  He gives us an ending full of death and savagery and then chickens out with a happy rewrite.  Instead of a savage ending, a film about kicking ass in the bloodiest way possible ends on a happy note.  What the hell is that?

While the actors do their jobs well, Savages delivers a mixed bag in terms of characters.  As Chon, Taylor Kitsch delivers an enjoyable performance as a badass protagonist.  His best scenes are typically those in which he's holding a gun or a knife.  I'm happy to see that Kitsch is continuing to expand his résumé after some tough luck in John Carter and Battleship earlier this year.  On the other hand, Ben and Ophelia, played by Aaron Johnson and Blake Lively respectively, give us necessary but annoying characters.  Instead of pondering a career in clean energy or requesting a salad while in captivity, these two should be doing what they have to do in order to survive.

The supporting characters also add a lot to the film, especially given the veteran actors portraying them.  As Elena La Reina, Salma Hayek is deliciously evil.  She's referred to as "La Madrina" ("The Godmother") by her subordinates and we see why every time she's on screen.  Hayek gives us one rough lady who steals every scene during which she's on camera.  As Lado, Benicio del Toro gives a grittier, edgier performance.  He's shooting anything that's breathing.  During every sadistic, malicious scene that gets ultra-bloody, you can trust that his character is involved in some way, shape, or form.  Finally, John Travolta delivers a slimy, detestable character as crooked DEA agent Dennis.  His time on screen is limited but definitely enjoyable.

In Savages, Oliver Stone takes us on a violent, turbulent journey that shows the rougher side of the drug business.  If you're looking for an action flick that's not afraid to get bloody, Oliver Stone has just what you need with this one.  Despite a weak ending, a fairly predictable plot, and some rather annoying characters, Savages gets a 0.06% rating.  Have a few rounds of beer with this one.