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Oliver Stone is in ‘Natural Born Killers’ mode with ‘Savages’

For a violent popcorn movie, it's pretty sensual.

Aaron Johnson and Taylor Kitsch are Ben and Chon, entrepreneurs, drug dealers and two thirds of a love triangle with California cutie Ophelia (Blake Lively). They sell a potent strain of legal medical-grade marijuana but also siphon off some for illicit practice and profit, which earns the attention of a Mexican Baja drug cartel run by Elena (Salma Hayek). She'll do anything to create a "joint" venture, including kidnapping the guys' shared paramour, Ophelia. Revenge turns bloody when Elena's enforcer, Lado (Benicio Del Toro), gets involved and complicated when a dirty DEA agent (John Travolta) double-crosses everyone.

Guns, drugs, threesomes; sounds like hanging out with Sam Kinison in the '80s. Actually, this is Stone's best picture since Reagan was president. He's working viscerally here and you can feel everything: the coastal languors of Laguna Beach, the scuzziness of Mexican border towns, Blake Lively's silken suntan. For a violent popcorn movie, it's pretty sensual. Johnson and Kitsch are good and evil, flip sides of the same coin, while Lively isn't as sprightly as her name might suggest -- but she does do damaged quite well.

If you go


Director: Oliver Stone

Cast: Aaron Johnson, Taylor Kitsch, Blake Lively

Rating: R

Grade: 4/5