Savages Spoiled

It just so happened that I started reading Savages by Don Winslow about three weeks before the film came out. The book was excellent. Winslow grabbed me from chapter one, which consists of only “Fuck you.” It was a great read and I was impressed enough to go out and buy a couple more of his books.

When the trailers for the movie began hacking their way across the commercial space of the few television shows I watch, I saw that Oliver Stone was directing. Now Hollywood usually slaughters good works of fiction, but with the director of Platoon and Born on the Fourth of July at the helm, I figured it would be pretty good regardless.

For the most part, I figured right. Savages, while not as good as the book (Are they ever?) it was a well done film. Visually it was compelling, and the actors fit right it with how I pictured them in the book, although I thought Travolta could have been a bit sleazier as the dirty DEA agent. He was a little too smooth and humorous for a dirty cop for me.

Overall, I thought the movie stayed true to the book as much as a film can. Most of the changes came in the way of cuts to keep the film from running too long, and the other plot changes were thankfully subtle ones. The problem with Savages on the big screen was the horrible Hollywood ending. With the way he stayed true to the book throughout, I can’t imagine that Stone was responsible for the amateurish and ridiculously unbelievable ending. It was an ending that was better left for the DVD alternate endings in the extras menu.



The ending as it appears in the film was so obviously contrived, and not just because I had just read the book, that it comes off fake if not downright retarded. As Ben, Chon, and O are engaged in the final confrontation and gun battle with cartel gunmen, we see them fall, as they did in the book, and everything fades away. Yes! A true ending, but wait, we can’t have that ending can we? It isn’t a happy Hollywood ending. Gods below, we can’t have our audiences depressed. What followed was so cheesy it made me want to reintroduce the warm buttery popcorn I’d enjoyed to the empty bag. The film actually rewinds and then play a happy “All the bad guys die or go to jail and the good guys live happily ever after” ending. Not only does this completely contradict the flavor of the entire story, it flies in the face of the way the film opens where O says, “Just because I’m telling you this story doesn’t mean I am alive at the end of it.” Now, she doesn’t say this in the book, but I could live with it in the film, because it sets the tone for a great piece of Noir. Crime by its very nature is a dirty unhappy business, and as the audience fully begins to buy into this, Hollywood had to fuck it up with Travolta swooping in by helicopter to save the day.

So, the moral of this little post is that Savages is a pretty decent movie, but if you want to keep your tasty movie snacks where they belong, content in your belly, when the screen fades at the end of the first and true ending, get the hell out of there.

One Response to “Savages Spoiled”

  1. katcop13 Says:

    I absolutely agree. My husband and I saw it, and we anticipated a true noir ending; in this respect, the first one was perfect. We were surprised by the rewind/re-do…and we both admitted the first one was better, & the 2nd one was unnecessary. It could have been saved for the DVD version for alternate endings.
    I’m surprised Oliver Stone went for the two-version ending route.

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