DVD Release Date: November 13, 2012
Theatrical Release Date: July 6, 2012
Rating: R (for strong brutal and grisly violence, some graphic sexuality, nudity, drug use and language throughout)
Genre: Drama/Crime/Thriller
Run Time: 130 min.
Director: Oliver Stone
Cast: Blake Lively, Taylor Kitsch, Aaron Johnson, Benicio Del Toro, John Travolta, Salma Hayek

Whether it was the kinder, gentler Gordon Gekko who emerged when Oliver Stone re-visited Wall Street in 2010’s Money Never Sleeps or the biography of former president George W. Bush that wasn’t nearly as controversial as audiences were expecting in 2008’s W, there’s been no shortage of critics who’ve suggested that the writer/director has simply lost some of his former gravitas.

Stone seems fiercely determined to put that notion to rest with the brazenly violent Savages, where he re-visits two of his favorite subjects: the tangled web that people often find themselves in when drugs are involved (see: 1978’s Midnight Express and 1983’s Scarface) and protagonists driven to edge of madness by a quest for the truth or perilous circumstances (see: 1986’s Platoon, 1991’s JFK, 1994’s Natural Born Killers or 1997’s U Turn).

Based on the Don Winslow novel by the same name, Savages is something you’d expect Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds) or Robert Rodriguez (Machete) to naturally gravitate toward, thanks to no shortage of opportunities for shocking bursts of violence. But for Stone, the guy you wouldn’t think of for something like this, co-writing and directing Savages allows him to re-establish himself with a story that skews toward a decidedly younger demographic—a shot at continued relevancy as he inches closer to his 70th birthday.

Trouble is, while Savages will certainly satisfy the blood lust of those who appreciate movies with a high body count, the younger actors simply aren’t up to the task of carrying this morbid morality tale. Perhaps even more laughable than the amateurish performances of Taylor Kitsch (Battleship), Aaron Johnson (Albert Nobbs) and Blake Lively (Green Lantern), who look like they accidentally wandered on the wrong set when they were really scheduled for an Abercrombie & Fitch photo op, is the story’s faulty set-up.

Yes, the Women’s Movement has officially taken another giant leap backward, thanks to Ophelia (Lively), who’d prefer you ditch any reference to Shakespeare and simply call her “O.” Lacking any ambition of her own, she’s tall and pretty, sporting perfect beach hair. Underneath that veneer, however, is a slew of problems. In addition to being estranged from her family (who she routinely lies to), she’s the girlfriend of not one, but two men who happen to be best friends.