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Drugs, sex and death.

SAVAGES (15, 129 mins) Thriller/Romance/Action. Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Taylor Kitsch, Blake Lively, Salma Hayek, Benicio Del Toro, John Travolta, Emile Hirsch. Director: Oliver Stone. Contains swearing, sex and violence.

BAD things happen to bad people.

In Oliver Stone's films, the wicked pay heavily for their manifold sins and the Oscarwinning writer-director certainly doles out tough justice to the godforsaken characters in this serpentine and sexually charged immorality tale.

Violence begets more violence as two best friends with a thriving marijuana business are challenged for control of their idyllic strip of Laguna Beach in California by a powerful drug cartel.

No one here is truly innocent, even kidnap victims are painted in shades of grey. The script spices up the back-stabbing and betrayal with breathless sex scenes between the good-looking leads, including a hazy, post-bong fumble that suggests three might not be a crowd after all.

Stone directs with typical gusto but he should have trimmed back the voiceover narration that occasionally errs towards unintentional hilarity, such as when the heroine compares her two lovers to cold metal and warm wood.

She'll need to watch out for splinters. Talented botanist Ben (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and his buddy Chon (Taylor Kitsch), a former Navy Seal and ex-mercenary, make a small fortune by growing marijuana in their sun-baked stretch of Orange County.

They are connected by pampered rich girl Ophelia (Blake Lively), who showers them both with sexual favours.

Then the Mexican Baja Cartel, run by Elena (Salma Hayek), her enforcer Lado (Benicio Del Toro) and legal eagle Alex (Demian Bichir), swaggers into the town and forcefully suggests Ben and Chon share the secrets of their lucrative business Stone's slippery film twists and turns like a cornered rattlesnake, right up to the tricky final shootout.

Taylor-Johnson and Kitsch are solid and Lively wafts prettily through her scenes in a drug-induced haze.

Hayek has great fun with her feisty femme, sporting flowing black, silken locks as she orders the death of underlings.
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Sep 20, 2012
Words:328
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