Review: In Savages, Oliver Stone guides the Riggins brothers


Taylor Kitsch, aka Tim Riggins, might be checking the box-office receipts on his summer movies.

Savages (rated R, 2 hours, 10 minutes): If you’re a fan of the Friday Night Lights TV series, you’re pulling for Savages in an odd way.

You’re pulling for Riggins, as in Tim Riggins.

Taylor Kitsch, who now appears typecast as a handsome but hardluck musclehead, played Riggins in FNL, and he portrays basically the same character in Savages.

In FNL, the critically-acclaimed drama about small-town Texas football, Riggins would have successes with the ladies and with certain ventures. But everything would eventually blow up in his face. Little goes his way in Savages as well.

(Even in real life, he was Riggins. Kitsch played junior hockey in a competitive Canadian hockey league only to have a knee injury end his career. He later moved to New York to be a model … only to end up homeless and sleeping on subways.)

All that crummy luck started following Riggins, uh Kitsch, into the 2012 summer movie season.

First up was John Carter, which was the opportunity for Kitsch to play his role mostly shirtless. Next: Battleship, which was the opportunity to look dashing in Navy dress whites. Sure, he won battles against the aliens each time, but he got beat up a lot in the process. So Riggins.

His movies also got beat up as well. John Carter made less than a third of its budget domestically. Battleship had the worst opening for a movie that cost more than $200 million. So Riggins.

With Savages, Riggins has another chance. Riggins fans, like me, however, fear that another flop will cost him his acting career — or at least he’ll be out of the running for A-list roles.

So other bias are at work here with Savages. I want it to succeed so that Riggins can keep being Riggins — but with better luck.

THE PLOT: In southern California, Riggins (Kitsch as Chon) and his pal Ben (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) run their illicit business — much like the Riggins brothers, Tim and Billy, did in Friday Night Lights. Ben is the brains; Chon, not so much. But their business does so well that it attracts the attention of a Mexican drug cartel, and that’s when the wheels come off. The cartel, led by Elena (Selma Hayek with a Dora the Explorer wig) wants control. The Riggins brothers also have a common love interest (Blake Lively as Ophelia) and that complicates matters. On top of all that, you have big-time scene-stealers in John Travolta (as Dennis the  hairline-receeding DEA agent who’s on the take) and Benicio Del Toro (as Lado the scowling cartel thug who’ll make you think twice about hiring landscapers). Before you know it, you’ve got bongs, IEDs, leaf blowers, torture, snipers, reservation cops. The ending also is tricky.

BEST TIME FOR BATHROOM BREAKS: RunPee.com recommends a couple of four-minute breaks, but I still would hold off on the large drink.

FOR THE KIDS: You do the math: Oliver Stone, drugs, cartel, Del Toro.

DATE MOVIE: Possibly. That whole threesome thing with the Riggins brothers and Ophelia could make for some awkward discussion.

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