A rainy sunday and two highly anticipated films in prospect sadly neither quite lived up to expectation:
Oliver Stone directs a tale of pacifist weed grower Ben (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and his slightly less pacifist business partner ex-Marine Chon (Taylor Kitsch). Their USP is a quality product lovingly grown and developed - think M&S foodhall as opposed to Asda economy aisle.
When a Mexican drugs baron decides to introduce a quality line of product, Ben and Chon's quality product in fact things get more complicated. Ben and Chon's girlfriend O (Blake Lively) is kidnapped to persuade them to comply.
The main problem I had with it, is that I just didn't buy Ben's journey from pacifist to someone who could do what he does. He also seems to become very cool in life threatening situations rather too easily. I suppose I was expecting a slightly cleverer way of resolving the situation.
You could argue that it is musing on the notion of savagery and how savage behaviour begets savage behaviour. When is such violence justified etc? Certainly there is little honour amongst thieves or in this case drug dealers.
And if you are going to take this stance then what does it say about Ben and his choices? I'm not sure it is quite enough to satisfy. That said, I love Aaron Taylor-Johnson and this coupled with Anna Karenina just show was a magnetic and charismatic screen presence he is.
Savages isn't a bad film but it just felt a little unsatisfying like the parts didn't quite make up the whole. And if someone can explain how that film got away with a 15 certificate I'd like to know. If you show a female nipple it's an 18 certificate but show someone being burned to death and that is a 15. Something is just wrong somewhere.
I'm giving it 59%. On IMDb it's got 67% with a Metascore of 59% while on Rotten Tomatoes it has 49% with 56% of audiences giving it three and a half stars or higher.
Killing Them Softly
I was really, really looking forward to this but I think the trailer had the most interesting bits. Brad Pitt and director Andrew Dominik have said in interviews that they wanted to work together again and I'm afraid it feels too much like a vehicle for that rather than anything substantial.
Pitt plays a hit man and when two amateurs knock off a gang controlled illegal card game and then make a hash of covering their tracks he's brought in to take them out *plot spoiler* something that doesn't seem to take much effort or cause too much tribulation. And that is about it in terms of plot. There is one particularly violent scene which felt gratuitous and a fairly obviously psychedelic drug taking scene.
The plot felt a bit under-developed. The characters felt a bit under-developed, I'm afraid I got a bit bored but I think I'm in the minority.
It's getting 42% from me while on IMDb it has 77% with a Metacritic of 74%. On Rotten Tomatoes there is a disparity between critics and audiences with the latter giving it 95% and only 61% of audiences rating it three and a half stars or higher.