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July 6, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

There’s nothing quite like an Oliver Stone movie to set the critics off in all directions like ants when a stone is dropped on their anthill. Savages is no exception. It’s often Stone’s liberal politics that whips up argument, however, and there’s little of that here. The New York Post‘s conservative film critic Kyle Smith, who once called Stone’s take on George Bush (W) “ignorant and fatuous” and described South of the Border, his documentary on leftist leaders Hugo Chavez, Raul Castro and Evo Morales as bordering on the “ludicrous,” calls Savages “nasty, vicious fun.” Smith concludes: “The run time is more than two hours, yet it’s also tight: no drag, no waste, no message.” A.O. Scott in the New York Times describes Stone as “an incurable cinema romantic” and his new movie as “And also an incurable cinema romantic. Savages is a daylight noir, a western, a stoner buddy movie and a love story, which is to say that it is a bit of a mess. But also a lot of fun.” Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times comments that Savages marks “a return to form for Stone’s dark side.” In the New York Daily News Joe Neumaier writes that “Stone’s landscape of corrupt innocents is beautifully nuanced, allowing every character, no matter how drug-war-weary, a chance to be shell-shocked. (One of those characters is portrayed by Taylor Kitsch, the star of two major flops this year, John Carter and Battleship. Kitsch, Neumaier remarks, “finally reverses a bad year.” And Ty Burr in the Boston Globe calls the movie “Oliver Stone’s strongest work in years — a stylish, violent, hallucinatory thriller with both a mean streak and a devilish sense of humor.” But there are at least an equal number of critics who savage Stone and the movie. Rafer Guzmán in Newsday regards the movie as “so hollow and hypocritical that it can’t even decide on an ending. You’ll get more than one, but it’s no bargain.” Peter Howell in the Toronto Star also takes aim at the multiple endings and concludes that at least one needs to be cut. “Yeah, Savages is that kind of story: too dumb even to know when to finally sheath the blade,” he observes. Claudia Puig in USA Today remarks that “the story ricochets among ironic humor, brutal violence and awkward stabs at genuine emotion. While Savages aims for provocative and dynamic, it comes off as predictable and strained.” And Kenneth Turan in the Los Angeles Times writes that Stone is “a director who has often felt that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, and his weakness for bloody excesses of all sorts undermines much of his good work.”