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Savages is a 2012 crime-thriller movie directed by Oliver Stone from the novel of the same name by Don Winslow, starring Taylor Kitsch, Aaron Johnson, Blake Lively (who also narrates the movie), Salma Hayek, Benicio Del Toro, Emile Hirsch and John Travolta.Ben (Johnson) and Chon (Kitsch) are partners in marijuana dealing and share everything - including O (Lively), short for Ophelia. A big-time Mexican drug cartel led by Elena (Hayek) and Lado (Del Toro) kidnap her... big mistake.The film more or less had a reception along the lines of So Okay, It's Average and just barely broke even at the box office. It's also known for being Brad Jones' pick for worst film of 2012. Make of that as you will.
Bittersweet Ending: None of the main characters die....Ben, Chon and O are together hiding in paradise, but emotionally scarred. Elena is arrested, but a new cartel takes over in her place, and Lado gets away with everything, becoming the new Dragon in it.
Black and Gray Morality: Ben is generally pretty laid back and tries to avoid violence for the most part, Chon doesn't hesitate to use violence if he feels it's necessary, Elena is a ruthless drug queen, but she only became that way because she inherited her husband's business after he was killed (along with two of her sons), and she does care about her remaining family and even seems to sympathize with O. Dennis plays with both sides and sticks with whoever pays him the most, mostly to pay for his dying wife's chemotherapy.
When Ben and Chon first discover O is kidnapped, they see an animation of her decapitated head with X's over her eyes and her tongue sticking out as her head bounces around with pinball machine sound effects.
Meaningful Name: Lado means "side," and he's the right-hand man of a drug kingpin.
Morality Pet: Elena may be a ruthless drug baroness, but she cares deeply about her estranged daughter Magda, to the point that when Ben and Chon kidnap Magda, she immediately agrees to hand over O without any hesitation.
Noble Demon: For all the brutality of the cartel it's obvious Elena would rather get things done without bloodshed when possible, and actually tries to make things as good as possible for O. She also loves and cares about her daughter so much she's willing to give up O and drop the entire arrangement to get her back, even though that's effectively forfeiting $13 million.
One-Letter Name: Her real name may be Ophelia, but she prefers to shorten it to O.
Posthumous Narration: Teased in the opening narration, in which O says, "Just because I'm telling you this story doesn't mean I'm alive at the end of it." Ultimately averted, since her death is an Imagine Spot. In the "real" ending, she survives.
Red Herring: The entire character of Esteban, who seems to emerge as O's only friend during her kidnapping. Lado kills him almost at random for being too soft.
Red Oni, Blue Oni: Chon serves as the Red Oni as an openly aggressive, violent Iraq war veteran while Ben, a philanthropic Buddhist botanist, serves as the Blue Oni.
Satellite Love Interest: O could be seen as one, as she is solely defined by being Chon and Ben's girlfriend, liking shopping, and being accustomed to and demanding better food and other accommodations from her captors.
Shout-Out: Ophelia is not happy that her name is a reference to a woman who went insane and killed herself over a man. She's also not happy with John Everett Millais's painting of Ophelia being displayed to her by her kidnappers, featuring Ophelia's corpse.
Sociopathic Hero: Chon is a ruthless, brutal man and if it wasn't for Ben he would probably be as bad as the Cartel members.
Spanner in the Works: Dennis. After O royally fakes out the audience, Dennis shows up from seemingly nowhere with the police before things really have the chance to escalate. If it weren't for Dennis' sudden intrusion, all of the other main characters would probably have been Killed Off for Real.
Title Drop: Our heroes refer to the drug cartel as "savages" because of their brutal tactics. Lado refers to our heroes as "savages" for their polyamory.
Trailers Always Lie: The trailer suggests that O narrates the movie from beyond the grave, a distinct possibility since in the novel just about everyone - good and bad guys alike - bites it. At first the film appears to be following the novel's ending with all the main characters dying... but then O says that's only what she wished happened, and the film rewinds to an earlier point, showing that all of the main characters aren't dead after all.
Upper-Class Twit: O is a relatively rare non-comedy version. She clearly comes from a rich family and while she met Ben and Chon through working for them by the time the film opens her occupation seems to be simply 'live in girlfriend'.
Villain Ball: Elena would have picked up a whole new distribution network, plus the recipe for some high-quality weed, if she'd just let Ben and Chon sell their business to her, rather than insist they come work for her. Instead, she sets in motion events which lead to her eventual downfall and the destruction of her entire business by being unnecessarily ruthless, vindictive, and violent.
Villain Protagonist: Chon and Ben. Whatever else they are, they're drug dealing criminals, and not above bribing a Federal officer and using violence to run their business.
Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Elena. She only got into the drug business in the first place because her husband was killed and she inherited his cartel connections, two of her sons were also killed, her third son is completely cut off from her, and her daughter Magda wants nothing to do with her, and at the end Lado betrays her and she ends up getting sentenced to 30 years in prison. O even admits that she feels bad for Elena in spite of everything she's done.