The other day I gave you a book review of Savages written by Don Winslow. Today I saw the film adapted by his novel, and loved it!
Like the novel, the film tells the story of three friends living the dream in southern California. Ben and Chon run a boutique marijuana business, and Ophelia (“O”) is their girlfriend. Life is great until the Baja Cartel want a piece of their business. When Ben & Chon don’t agree to become business partners with Elena “La Reina” Lauter (La Madrina), she orders the kidnapping of O. With O in her custody, Elena believe the boys will comply with her demands. Ben & Chon have other ideas. The film stars Taylor Kitsch (Battleship), Aaron Johnson (Anna Karenina), Blake Lively (Gossip Girl), Salma Hayek, John Travolta, and Benicio Del Torro. Savages was directed by the acclaimed Oliver Stone in his first film since 2010’s Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.
“There’s something wrong with your love story, baby. Those boys will never love you as much as they love each other. Or else they’d never share you.”
Since the film’s screenplay was written by Don Winslow himself, it’s not surprising the film follows the novel pretty closely. The film captured the love story between Ben, Chon, and O as well as their relationship with the Baja Cartel. As always, there are scenes cut from one medium to the other. That’s to be expected. Having read the novel earlier this week, I can say that the changes were noticeable, but didn’t greatly affect the story. In fact, there is only two major changes to the film. The rest is just omission. Not to spoil the movie, I will say that the changes they made I liked, but I still prefer the original.
Do you need to read the book to watch the movie? No! In fact, I say that if you go to see it and like it, then go ahead and read the book. This will allow you to get more background on all the characters involved. If you decided the movie is enough, then that’s fine too. I will tell you is to think about the subject, and the director. If violent films are not your thing, then you may want to pass this one up, because it is definitely violent. However, the amount of blood in the movie is nowhere near what you’d see in a Tarantino flick.
One thing I liked about the movie (besides following the book) is that I thought it was perfectly cast. When I heard Blake Lively was going to star in it I had my doubts, but then I remembered her role in The Town. Since Lively has been on Gossip Girl for so long, I often forget that she can actually act. I thought she nailed the character of Ophelia to a tee. Taylor Kitsch got a chance to shine as well.
Ever since Kitsch has been on Friday Night Lights he was done role after role of cute, but not very bright guy who tries to make good. This was the first time I got the opportunity to see him play a badass, who’s honestly not that nice. He knocked it out of the park. If he can keep landing roles like this, his star should continue to rise. The other actor who stood out the most to me was Benicio Del Torro.I know Del Torro is a phenomenal actor. I don’t have to be sold on that. He gave creepy a whole new name playing Lado, however I didn’t find the character as menacing as in the novel.
Travolta, Hayek, and Johnson also rose to the occasion, and fit their characters perfectly as well. I thought I knew Johnson from something before, but then I realized it was from the Anna Karenina trailer I had seen last week before The Amazing Spiderman. I can’t wait to see what other projects he’s in, because I thought he was mesmerizing as Ben. You really could see the development of this peaceful entrepreneur to the killer he became. If you can’t already tell, I definitely say add Savages to your weekend to-do list.