Savages is Oliver Stone doing what he should have done a long time ago: making a tricky, amoral, down-and-dirty crime thriller that's blessedly free of any social, topical, or political relevance.
"Savages" is a daylight noir, a western, a stoner buddy movie and a love story, which is to say that it is a bit of a mess. But also a lot of fun, especially as its pulp elements rub up against some gritty geopolitical and economic themes.
A candy-colored black valentine to titillation, garish brutality and groovy post-fin-de-siecle excess, this ode to cinema's most exploitative pleasures finds Stone chronicling America's dark side at its most sun-kissed.
More than two hours long -- and building to two endings, one romantic-tragic and one quasi-ironic and romantic-ludicrous -- Savages is bloated with plot and exposition...
Working from a novel by Don Winslow, Stone's landscape of corrupt innocents is beautifully nuanced, allowing every character, no matter how drug-war-weary, a chance to be shell-shocked.
Savages points to a problem with gifted directors, which Stone is, like him or not: They can make a movie that aggravates, infuriates, falters even, but they can really make a movie.
"Savages" makes you wonder where Stone, that most pointed of directors, is going. And then it never gets there, backing off at the last minute. As such, it is literally a brutal disappointment.
While making such movies as "JFK" and "Natural Born Killers," Stone seemed fearless, both in what he put on screen and how he put it there. A lot of that spirit returns here.