DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

Savages, Blu-ray+DVD, Unrated Edition (2012)

A very bloody and violent film about a bloody and violent subject - the Mexican drug cartels.

Published on November 16, 2012

Savages, Blu-ray+DVD, Unrated Edition (2012)

Director: Oliver Stone
Cast: Taylor Kitsch, John Travolta, Benicio Del Toro, Salma Hayek, Blake Lively
Studio: Universal 61120677 [11/13/12] (2 discs)
Video: 2.40:1 anamorphic/enhanced for 16:9 1080p HD color
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1, French or Spanish DTS 5.1, English, French or Spanish DD 5.1, English DD 2.0
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
All Regions
Extras: Commentary track with the filmmakers, Deleted scenes, “Stone Cold Savages: The Making of the Film” – 5 parts, BD-Live, Pocket BLU app, D-BOX encoded
Length: 2 hrs. 11 mins. (theatrical version); 2 hrs. 22 mins. (unrated version)
Rating: ****

I watched the longer unrated version, so I guess the theatrical version would be a bit less brutal and violent, but basically Stone pulled out all the stops here in this bloody amorality tale. Del Toro and Hayek make wonderful villains, and Travolta holds his own as a crooked DEA agent. (Don’t ever believe anything in Amazon’s Blu-ray/DVD listings: this thriller did seem a bit long, but not nearly the 546 minutes listed in Amazon!.)

Two best male friends (in a sexy menage-a-trois with their shared girlfriend) are marijuana entrepreneurs in Southern California. One of them who was a Navy SEAL in Afghanistan has brought back the most potent seeds (Taylor Kitsch, finally in a role that doesn’t fit his name) and the other is into Buddhism and doing charitable work in Africa. They all raise the weed in a highly-controlled manner, selling it first to medical marijuana clinics and then to the very profitable local black market. Their THC-rich strain of pot comes to the attention of one of the Mexican drug cartels, led by the Selma Hayek character, whose main handler/killer is played by Del Toro.

The cartel offers an “invitation” to the entrepreneurs to join forces (the Mexican marijuana is not nearly as potent). Turning them down is not really an option, but the two guys do, even when exposed to grisly beheadings of enemies by the cartel via videos. They make plans for all three to take off for Indonesia, but that becomes impossible. When their girl, O, is kidnapped, and the new deal is the cartel will keep her as a hostage for a year, they quickly become as savage as the Mexican drug savages, including kidnapping the only daughter of the Hayek character, and killing many in order to get even. It is rather strange that the final scene of the exchange of the two hostages is shown twice—in other words, two entirely different endings, as though Stone wasn’t sure how to really end his film. And it’s plenty grisly—definitely not a family film.

—John Sunier




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