Stone has made a career out of divisive films that always manage to have a steady finger on the cultural pulse. His recent director credits include Wall Street, W., and World Trade Center, all three of which were deliberately released to mirror the political climate of their time. Wall Street in 2010 closely followed the beginning of the economic recession, W. was released in 2008 – the last year of George W. Bush’s presidency, and World Trade Center released in 2006 – the fifth year anniversary or 9/11.
Savages, based off of Don Winslow’s novel of the same name, follows the story of pot-head drug dealing buddies Ben (Aaron Johnson) and Chon (Taylor Kitsch … who is, I’m sure, crossing his fingers for a bigger success than his infamous flop John Carter) and their wheelings and dealings with a Mexican drug cartel on both sides of the California-Mexico border. Of course Blake Lively (as O) is thrown in for good measure; she plays Ben and Chon’s shared, and kidnapped, girlfriend. I am sure that in this unsettling time in Mexico, close on the heels of the recent presidential elections, it is no accident that Stone chose to base his newest release around the goings on in this contentious country.
Aside from his politically charged themes, Stone always manages to get some A-listers on board with his projects. While the two leading men, Kitsch and Johnson, are relative newbies, John Travolta, as a D.E.A. agent, and Benicio Del Toro, as a criminal, round out the male cast. Lively’s female counterweight is Salma Hayek.
Trailer-judging alone, Savages looks chock full of classic Stone signatures: a mix of cinematographic tools, black and white film interspersed with color, visual scrambling, and of course drugs. What also sticks out, even just in the trailer, is the deliberate and beautiful language crafted by writers Shane Salerno, Winslow, and Stone himself.
An antidote to July’s superhero insanity, Savages’ beautiful people, sexy plot-line, and sleek look, seems like it will be this summer 2012's cool-factor success.