With only a few exceptions, you’re more likely to see Blake Lively in a supporting role than a leading one, but she’s rarely on screen without making an impression. And the 2012 crime flick Savages, in which can be seen one such performance, will hit Netflix later this month, on March 16th.
The movie is one of the better of Oliver Stone’s more recent output, which notably declined in quality after ‘90s neo-noir thriller U Turn, and revolves around old friends Chon (Taylor Kitsch) and Ben (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), respectively a soldier and a botanist, who through a sequence of skill, luck and opportunity find themselves the sole growers of possibly the most potent strain of marijuana in the world. A Mexican drug cartel decides they want in on the profits, and kidnap the pair’s mutual girlfriend to force their compliance, underestimating their resolve to do what it takes to get her back.
Blake Lively plays the lady in question, Ophelia, who due to being “named after the bipolar basket case in Hamlet who committed suicide,” she shortens it to just O. It’s a refreshing perspective to have a polyamorous relationship portrayed as simply functioning, absent of the jealousy or rivalry you would expect to be present in two men sharing one woman both romantically and sexually.
Far from being a mere damsel in distress, O still plays an important role in the story even when a captive of the gangsters, her perspective fleshing out characters who would otherwise be nebulous thugs and little more than clichés, principally cartel boss Elena (Salma Hayek) and her vile henchman Lado (Benicio del Toro).
An interpretation of Savages’ title could come from it unflinchingly laying bare the worst of humanity in the sex, violence and greed that drives the film, but in truth is more relevant in its core theme being the basic impulses that make us human, protecting those we care about whatever the cost and regardless of the artificial impositions placed upon us by an advancing society that purports to be more civilized.