First Hit: Overly done mishmash of drugs, violence and machismo.
Oliver Stone has done a wide assortment of films and many of them have stories based in violence.
This one is another of those violent films of his and it appears he wanted to say something about the word savages. What the point was of this movie didn’t land on me.
I found this film overly acted (by Benicio Del Toro and Salma Hayek to name too examples) while aiming to shock the audience with the type of the uncaring violence we see in the news coming out of Mexico.
My interpretation of the purpose of this film was to see what happens when two friends Ben and Chon (played by Aaron Johnson and Taylor Kitsch respectively), have their shared girlfriend O (played by Blake Lively) is taken from them because they didn't want to do a drug deal. The three of them love their life by making, selling and using their high grade pot.
Chon is an Iraqi war vet and is a cold killer but only has to use his skills occasionally to keep the drug payments flowing to their business. Ben is a botanist and is the creator of their product which exceeds all other pot in the world. He’s kind hearted and does volunteer work throughout the world when he’s not creating a new strain.
Elena (Hayek) is the leader of a Mexican drug cartel that wants Ben and Chon’s (names reminded me of Cheech and Chong – bad choice of names) product. Elena's enforcer is Lado (played by Del Toro). The film, which early on depicts beheadings and later on with lots of uncaring machismo violence, has no real point except we get to see Ben and Chon get their girl back after Elena kidnaps her to force a deal with the weed makers. For some acting relief, Stone has John Travolta as Dennis the dirty Federal Drug Agent.
Lively is pretty and, at times, plays an effective stupid girl who is a full blown pothead. Johnson is supposed to be the smart cool one and at times he’s OK in this role. Kitsch holds his role as non-caring enforcer well enough. Del Toro is overly slimy in his portrayal of an enforcer. Hayek is wasted in her role as an accidental drug cartel leader. Travolta made the most of his role and screen time. Shane Salerno, Don Winslow and Oliver Stone wrote this poorly constructed script with some stupid lines like “went all Henry the 8th on them”. Stone looks like he found a way to imbibe himself in drugs and violence once again.
Overall: I enjoyed seeing my old playground town of Laguna Beach, but everything else was wasted – just like how the main characters spent most of their time.