Taylor Can’t Kitsch a Break

His best movie, Savages, is still a mess

Ask former “Friday Night Lights” actor Taylor Kitsch what he did this summer, and if he’s honest, he will tell you he set his career on fire. Yes, let us weep for Kitsch and his Greek God physique, overflowing bank accounts and unquestionable green light to mate with whomever he wishes! In the span of 2-plus months he has flopped (John Carter), floundered (Battleship) and flubbed (Savages) his way back to footnote status in the world of popular culture. The good news? It sure looks like he’ll have Blake Lively to keep him company as fame’s benchwarmer.

Savages, Kitsch’s last summer gasp and director Oliver Stone’s latest pulpy romp, is quite nearly good. Aside from its bloated meandering and terrible choice in leading lady, it was one solid landing away from respectable marks from the judges, even if the level of difficulty wasn’t all that high. Unfortunately, the ending wasn’t “stuck;” it just sucked. But that’s on writers Shane Salerno and Don Winslow, along with Stone, more than on the woeful, perfectly-buttocksed Kitsch.

For all its attempts to confuse and obfuscate, Savages is a really simple story of drug deals and kidnapping. It’s also one of those movies where almost everybody has a stupid name nobody would ever have in real life. Our narrator is O (Lively), which is short for Ophelia. She is in what some may consider a “reverse polygamist” relationship, in that she is shared by best friends Ben (Aaron Johnson) and Chon (Kitsch), who has arguably the single most ridiculous, non-science fiction name ever.

Ben and Chon grow really, really good weed. This catches the eye of a Mexican cartel, ran by Elena (Salma Hayek) and her enforcer, Lado (Benicio Del Toro). When Ben and Chon won’t play agree to work with said cartel, Elena has O kidnapped. The boys leverage their relationship with DEA agent Dennis (John Travolta) to attempt to get their mutual love toy back.

Savages has been described as a sort-of criminal fairy tale, something indicated by the inherent fantasy of two men finding the charisma-free Lively worth murdering over. In that sense, it almost works. With Del Toro given ample chance to prove why he’s the best at skeevy, strange bad guys and Stone playing with non-hyper but still stylized visuals, the noir-ish tale is nearly fun. Even Kitsch, who plays a former soldier who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and thus drops awkward references to things like “going full Sunni,” finds his acting niche: he can play angry, violent dudes with a small sensitive side…and that’s all.

But then comes the ending. Woo doggy, that ending or, actually, endings…plural. Both are wretched and largely serve to undo the goodwill towards what came before, but had they been in the reverse order, it maybe could have been mildly forgivable. Maybe. By and large, Savages works as engaging pulpy goodness. If nothing else, Kitsch can hang his head on the fact that he was not the worst lead in this one. He should send Ms. Lively a nice “thank you” card for that.

Ask former “Friday Night Lights” actor Taylor Kitsch what he did this summer, and if he’s honest, he will tell you he set his career on fire. Yes, let us weep for Kitsch and his Greek God physique, overflowing bank accounts and unquestionable green light to mate with whomever he wishes! In the span of 2-plus months he has flopped (John Carter), floundered (Battleship) and flubbed (Savages) his way back to footnote status in the world of popular culture. The good news? It sure looks like he’ll have Blake Lively to keep him company as fame’s benchwarmer.

Savages, Kitsch’s last summer gasp and director Oliver Stone’s latest pulpy romp, is quite nearly good. Aside from its bloated meandering and terrible choice in leading lady, it was one solid landing away from respectable marks from the judges, even if the level of difficulty wasn’t all that high. Unfortunately, the ending wasn’t “stuck;” it just sucked. But that’s on writers Shane Salerno and Don Winslow, along with Stone, more than on the woeful, perfectly-buttocksed Kitsch.

For all its attempts to confuse and obfuscate, Savages is a really simple story of drug deals and kidnapping. It’s also one of those movies where almost everybody has a stupid name nobody would ever have in real life. Our narrator is O (Lively), which is short for Ophelia. She is in what some may consider a “reverse polygamist” relationship, in that she is shared by best friends Ben (Aaron Johnson) and Chon (Kitsch), who has arguably the single most ridiculous, non-science fiction name ever.

Ben and Chon grow really, really good weed. This catches the eye of a Mexican cartel, ran by Elena (Salma Hayek) and her enforcer, Lado (Benicio Del Toro). When Ben and Chon won’t play agree to work with said cartel, Elena has O kidnapped. The boys leverage their relationship with DEA agent Dennis (John Travolta) to attempt to get their mutual love toy back.

Savages has been described as a sort-of criminal fairy tale, something indicated by the inherent fantasy of two men finding the charisma-free Lively worth murdering over. In that sense, it almost works. With Del Toro given ample chance to prove why he’s the best at skeevy, strange bad guys and Stone playing with non-hyper but still stylized visuals, the noir-ish tale is nearly fun. Even Kitsch, who plays a former soldier who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and thus drops awkward references to things like “going full Sunni,” finds his acting niche: he can play angry, violent dudes with a small sensitive side…and that’s all.

But then comes the ending. Woo doggy, that ending or, actually, endings…plural. Both are wretched and largely serve to undo the goodwill towards what came before, but had they been in the reverse order, it maybe could have been mildly forgivable. Maybe. By and large, Savages works as engaging pulpy goodness. If nothing else, Kitsch can hang his head on the fact that he was not the worst lead in this one. He should send Ms. Lively a nice “thank you” card for that.

Grade = C+

posted at 05:43 pm
on Friday, July 13th, 2012

COMMENTS

(We're testing Disqus commenting (finally!); please let us know if you have trouble.)

comments powered by Disqus

 

« Previous Page


Mocku-Dracu-mentary

Has any supernatural creature had a rougher decade than vampires? “I mean, have you seen that sparkling British twerp? Just stake me already.” Dracula whimpers at his “Monsters Can Feel” small group,...

more »


Don’t Watch Once

Kill Me Three Times fails to be the Australian version of Pulp Fiction that director Kriv Stenders so clearly wants it to be. Besides the fact that’s a boring aspiration anyway, Stender’s new film...

more »


Awful, Not Full of Awe

Preposterous, pseudointellectual, poorly constructed, clichéd, impenetrably masculine, goofy and possessed of an indecipherable ending, Interstellar is the mother of all misfires. It is a bloated...

more »


Define “Run”

At this point, there is just one Liam Neeson movie: Taken a Non-Stop Run All Night to Walk Among the Tombstones 3. Neeson isn’t in the midst of some Nicolas Cage supernova, in which an actor’s need...

more »


Ending in the Middle Earth

There are many things I don’t understand: quantum mechanics, car commercials, who put the bomp in the bomb bah bomp bah bomp. But chief among the perplexing unsolvables to me remains how people who...

more »







Advanced Search