Ah, Jesus. Oliver Stone is back.
And I don't mean back as in: "The master has returned!" I mean that more as "Oliver Stone made another movie. Son of a bitch." I guess on the bright side, this is not the watered down PG-13 Oliver Stone that filled theaters throughout the first decade of the 2000's. Unfortunately, making a film R-rated is not a return to glory for Oliver Stone.
Told to us through annoying and on-the-nose narration by main character Ophelia "O" Sage, (Blake Lively) we find that O lives with two guys from very different backgrounds. Chon (Taylor Kitsch) is a former Navy SEAL who has smuggled marijuana seeds from Afghanistan and has partnered with much more relaxed Ben (Aaron Johnson) to produce a lucrative marijuana business. O is in love with both of them for different reasons and all three live what is shown to be a normal life.
Ben and Chon meet with a powerful Mexican drug cartel about becoming partners in the marijuana business. Ben and Chon refuse the offer and decide to give up their business and bring O with them to Indonesia. Before that can happen, though, the cartel's enforcer Lado, (Benicio Del Toro) on orders from the cartel's leader Elena (Salma Hayek) kidnaps O in retaliation for their refusal.
After consulting with DEA Agent Dennis, (John Travolta) who likes to play all sides, Ben and Chon decide to retaliate against Lado, Elena and the members of their cartel. The rest of the film plays out by showing both sides of this equation: Ben and Chon trying to get O back and Elena, Lado and O and their situation.
There was not much to enjoy about this film. John Travolta and his few minutes are very over the top and I was glad he was in the film only sporadically. Ben and Chon and their rescue attempt of O never sucked me in as I wanted, mainly because I did not care one bit about their story.
The only story and characters that generated any interest from me were Salma Hayek and Benicio Del Toro. I think my interest for the character of Elena mainly came about as Salma Hayek rarely gets a chance to play a main villain like she does here. Far more interesting is Benicio Del Toro's Lado. He provides menace and some dark humor and creates an interesting character. I would have rather had Ben, Chon and O's story just go away and focus on the Lado character as I'm sure this would have made for a much more interesting film.
Which brings me to Oliver Stone. This film feels like he is forcing himself to try and replicate what made him a sought after director in the first place. He tackles a controversial subject, throws a bunch of extremes and uses various filmmaking techniques that resemble a low rent copycat of Natural Born Killers. What it comes down to, is that Oliver Stone does not seem to have his heart in this film. All of this film feels like he is forcing himself to make something that his heart isn't into.
This entire film just never feels like anyone, maybe except for Benicio Del Toro has their heart into this film. Oliver Stone made a film that is a pale imitation of many of his earlier films.