Oliver Stone’s latest flick can be summed up in a brief sentence. Good drug dealers versus bad drug dealers. It is engrossing, more than minimally entertaining; not as bludgeoning with the message as the usual Stone scenario; still in a month’s time will be a vague, shadowy memory of a mindless two hours spent in a refrigerated cocoon; a blessed respite from the hellish temperatures, melting minds and bodies on the streets of this major metropolis.
Two boyhood friends run the “good”, medicinal side of the equation: “Chon” (Taylor Kitsch) hardened, Iraqi War veteran, and “Ben”(Aaron Johnson) the sensitive, pragmatic partner. They are so intuned to each other that they unselfishly share “O” (Blake Lively, the beautiful, sensually slutty, storyteller; the tenor of her seductive voice is massively effective, reason enough to stay in your seat.)
Enter the evil dealers, powerfully and pivotally depicted by Selma Hayek and Benicio Del Toro. Ms. Hayek plays “La Reina” the cold, calculating diva of the Mexican cartel, attired in designer clothes and a million- dollar- plus diamond necklace; she is immune to guts and gore and callously uses any weapon to maintain control of her insidious, lethal empire. Mr. Del Toro, “Lado”, La Reina’s consigliore, is deliciously vile, wantonly diabolical, skilled, intuit in the art of interrogation; master of mean and manipulative; cruelty, self- aggrandizement, his only commandments.
John Travolta as the compromised law enforcement officer, “Dennis” is scintillating, sinful as he banters obsequiously with both sides of the drug culture; no matter his deviations, from the moral code of his profession, it is impossible not to root for him.
Frequently predictable but enough curves to hold your interest; WARNING do not leave assuming the film is complete; wait for the “Savages” to reveal themselves.
TWO & 1/2 STARS!! (SOMETIMES IT SUFFICES)