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The Ideological Content Analysis 30 Days Putsch:

30 Reviews in 30 Days

DAY EIGHT

A-Walk-Among-the-Tombstones-Poster

As downbeat and depressing as its title suggests, A Walk Among the Tombstones has cop-turned-private-investigator Liam Neeson hired by drug dealer Dan Stevens to track down the sadistic kidnappers who took his money and dismembered his wife. In a development only a Jew could cook up, Neeson commissions a homeless but literate black teen computer whiz, vegetarian, and aspiring detective (Brian “Astro” Bradley) to help him with the case.

A Walk Among the Tombstones is one of those movies that thinks itself edgy for taking its protagonist down the dirty alleyways of the real and into America’s gritty heart of darkness – the netherworld of serial killers, drug dealers, and street-wise African-American youths with hearts of gold and brains bristling with fallow potential. Typical of the film’s pretension are the intercutting of a graveyard shootout with audio from an AA meeting, a pointless reveal of the still-standing World Trade Center at the end, and the closing credits choice of a goofily earnest female vocal rendition of Soundgarden’s grunge hit “Black Hole Sun”.

3.5 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that A Walk Among the Tombstones is:

6. Anti-Christian. The drug dealer who hires Neeson is named Kenny Kristo (i.e., Christ) and another dealer (Sebastian Roché) has a cross tattoo on his hand, the subversive meaning of these two associations being that Christianity is like peddled dope.

5. Pro-miscegenation, featuring a relationship between a mestizo and a blonde. “I gather it was a mongrel,” one character says of a canine, adding, “So many of us are.”

4. Anti-gay. The killers, it is insinuated, may be homosexuals.

3. Anti-drug. Traffickers, while portrayed with some sympathy, nonetheless endanger their families with their work, which also brings them under the scrutiny of the DEA. Neeson gives up drinking and joins AA after making a terrible mistake under the influence of alcohol.

2. Anti-gun. Set in 1999, the film shows Neeson reading a newspaper with headline “Gun Sales Rise on News of Y2K”. The implication is that gun owners are doofuses moved by paranoid patriot propaganda and conspiracy theories. When Neeson’s sidekick finds a gun, the hero advises him that he might as well go ahead and blow his head off with it, since that will be the inevitable outcome of a life of amateur pistol-packing. Neeson quit the NYPD after accidentally shooting a girl.

1. Anti-racist (i.e., pro-yawn). In a prologue set in 1991, Neeson calls his partner a “spic”. Though the character never makes an explicit disavowal of racist bigotry, it is implied in the older, wiser Neeson’s tutelage and, it is suggested at the end, adoption of his black sidekick.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

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Dallas Buyers Club

Matthew McConaughey, who over the past few years has become one of this writer’s favorite actors working today, is the only reason to watch Dallas Buyers Club, the most recent attempt to subvert and metamorphose the American cowboy into a gay activism icon after the manner of Brokeback Mountain (2005). McConaughey stars as Ron Woodroof, a narrow-minded ne’er-do-well whose life changes forever – or, anyway, for what remains of it – after he is diagnosed with what Andy Warhol called “gay cancer”.

Jennifer Garner portrays a concerned physician, while Jared Leto munches the scenery as junkie transvestite Rayon, who becomes Woodroof’s business partner in the “Dallas Buyers Club”, a grassroots enterprise designed to provide AIDS sufferers with a healthier treatment alternative than the big pharmaceutical competition. Woodroof’s drive to prolong his life and combat the establishment’s market stranglehold is fairly compelling, but squeamish viewers are forewarned that the movie contains such tacky attempts at heart-tuggery as the sight of a sick, self-pitying transvestite drooling blood and whining “I don’t wanna die . . .”

4 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Dallas Buyers Club is:

9. Anti-Christian. Woodroof dresses as a priest while attempting to smuggle drugs into the U.S. from Mexico. The image of an AIDS patient wearing a clerical collar is of course no sartorial accident and works as a barb directed at Catholic moral hypocrisy, so many priests being closeted homosexuals, many of whom are known to have succumbed to AIDS.

8. Anti-drug. Woodruff’s intravenous drug use, along with his inveterate whore-chasing, has put him at greater risk for contracting AIDS. Also, Rayon’s dope addiction only exacerbates his decline.

7. Anti-racist. One of the personal failings Woodroof must overcome is his racism, evidenced by his references to Asians as “chinks” and Saudis as “sand niggers”. As his drug procurement operation goes global, he learns to appreciate the profitability of doing business with foreigners. “I like your style,” he tells a Japanese doctor.

6. Feminist. In addition to overcoming his racism, Woodroof must also come to accept women’s contributions to the modern workforce. “I don’t want a nurse, I want a doctor!” he protests in one early scene.

5. Anti-redneck. The spectacle of a gun-toting “homophobic asshole” and piece of “Texas hick white trash” suffering from AIDS and lashing out in his agony as dignified professional women and minorities look on with contempt is pure political porn for liberals, the quintessence of their wishful thinking.

4. Capitalist. Dallas Buyers Club betrays a left-libertarian streak in its combination of social liberalism and celebration of the entrepreneurial spirit, attempting to illustrate how unfettered markets will serve both the small businessman and consumer. “I say what goes in my body, not you.”

3. Anti-corporatism. The IRS, DEA, and particularly the FDA appear as antagonists in the film, the cronyist footmen of big pharma monopolists looking to squeeze the competition. “Now that’s the shit that’ll rot your insides,” Woodroof avers, examining a package of meat in a grocery store. “What a surprise,” he then adds, “FDA-approved.” The FDA, Dallas Buyers Club alleges, merely functions as big pharma’s glorified street pushers.

2. Pro-gay. Through a business partnership that blossoms into a friendship, Woodroof learns to appreciate Rayon as an individual, and comes to appreciate the general plight of homosexuals as he succumbs to the disease they share. AIDS, as the great sexual-sociopolitical equalizer, almost seems to be the movie’s unsung hero. Demonstrating his transformation from homophobe to humanitarian, Woodroof in one scene grabs his bigoted friend T.J. (Kevin Rankin) and holds him in a headlock until he agrees to shake Rayon’s hand. Homosexuals appear as sensitive and nurturing throughout Dallas Buyers Club.

1. Pro-NWO. “Look at this place,” Woodroof muses, surveying the scene in a bohemian clinic south of the border. “Fuckin’ chinks, homos, herbs, hot nurses. You got a regular New World Order goin’ on here . . .”

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

Homefront

Viewers are encouraged to do what they can to endure a disorienting first five minutes or so of prologue material shot in spazvision, as Homefront quickly shapes up to be an exciting suspense vehicle for leading limey Jason Statham. Screenwriter-producer Sylvester Stallone has written a human and involving winner for his fellow Expendables  alumnus, who profits in presence by playing something more substantial than Rambo’s globe-trotting sidekick.

Statham is quietly tough in his role of recent widower Phil Broker, a veteran of Interpol and the DEA who tries to make a new life for himself and his daughter Maddy (Izabela Vidovic) in a rural Louisiana community. Unfortunately for them, a schoolyard incident escalates into a dangerous situation involving meth manufacturer Gator (James Franco) and one vengeful ghost from Broker’s past.

At stake throughout and uppermost in the audience’s apprehensions is the safety of the innocent Maddy, so that portions of Homefront recall Cape Fear or Taken with its story of a loving but serious-minded and violently protective father. As in Taken, the hero is rather too impervious – getting shot, beaten up, nearly drowned, and car-wrecked are only momentary setbacks for the formidable Broker – but Homefront‘s momentum is such that its excesses might just as well be the sparks of its incendiary potential.

James Franco is as scary as Gator as he was as Alien in Spring Breakers, while Kate Bosworth fumes with bitchy toxicity as Cassie, the meth-head Lady Macbeth of the piece. Izabela Vidovic is a sophisticated young actress and deserves credit for making the little girl at the heart of the story an interesting character. Also in the cast is Winona Horowitz (alias Ryder), who appears to skanky effect as Gator’s main squeeze Sheryl.

4.5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Homefront is:

7. Racist! Sacrificial Negro rules of survival are clearly in effect.

6. Feminist. Maddy handily dispatches a big boy bully at school.

5. Anti-police. A corrupt sheriff (Clancy Brown) turns a blind eye to Gator’s business.

4. Pro-gun. A solid stock of firepower comes in handy when a man has to defend his castle.

3. Anti-redneck/pro-N.W.O. The locals are throwbacks to hillbilly days, complete with feuding clans. What they need is a good dose of civilized one-world-government whoop-ass from somebody with a foreign accent!

2. Pro-family. Notwithstanding no. 6, Homefront does showcase a touching father-daughter relationship.

1. Anti-drug. Drug dealers appear as deplorable people. Gator, the dastard, has even turned his own sister into an addict.

The_Heat_poster

“The making and authorized distribution of this film supported over 13,000 jobs and involved hundreds of thousands of work hours,” reads a message following The Heat‘s end credits, as if in apology or as an excuse for what the viewer has just experienced. Sure, that montage of McCarthy and Bullock bonding as they hip-shake to Deee Lite’s “Groove Is in the Heart” might have been a little pathetic and painful for you to sit through, but by purchasing that ticket, you were making a difference in the life of an underprivileged Hollywood union schlub. The product of those hundreds of thousands of schlub hours, sad to say, would appear to be something significantly less than the sum of these thousands of toilers’ efforts.

Sandra Bullock stars as anal retentive FBI agent Ashburn, who, in the course of trying to nail a Boston drug kingpin – and The Heat, make no mistake, is set in Boston solely for the opportunity this provides of including a gaggle of superfluous characters with easily ridiculed accents – is thrust into an unwelcome partnership with local slob policewoman Mullins, played with irascible gusto and admirable comic timing by husky comedienne Melissa McCarthy. The fitful joy of the film – and despite its ultimate mediocrity, there are occasional laughs to be had – derives from the epic clash of the pair’s diametrically opposed personalities.

The boring displays of womanly courage, physical might, and weapons prowess; the endless, prideless parade of wimpy and contemptible men; the open, obsessively unabashed discussions of anatomy; the entertainment-deficient moments of earnestness and emotional searching; and, last but not least, some execrable slapstick – all of these are to be expected in a film of this type; but what finally puts the damper on The Heat is its unwieldy length and uneven pacing, with the movie overstaying its lukewarm welcome by at least 40 draggy minutes. If there is a reason to endure The Heat, however, it is easily Melissa McCarthy, who, as big, jiggly, probably smelly ball of charisma Mullins, should fill a screen of any size with little difficulty.

2.5 of 5 possible stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that The Heat is:

13. Anti-Slav. As in Pain and Gain and A Good Day to Die Hard, the Slavic female is an exotic, shady, kinky, inferior creature.

12. Anti-Christian. “That’s one of the better Jesus-sports-themed paintings I’ve seen,” Ashburn observes uncomfortably, indicating a kitschy picture in the Mullins family’s home.

11. Anti-white male. An insecure, misogynistic, loud-mouthed albino (Dan Bakkedahl) says it all.

10. Pro-gay. Lesbians cavort on a dance floor.

9. Racism-skeptical. The albino’s whining about the heroines’ “albino prejudice” parodies race hustlers’ constant harping about whites’ racial insensitivity. (Either that, or it mocks whites’ complaints of reverse racism.) “Don’t play that race bullshit card with me,” Mullins gripes in a bizarre encounter with a black man (“Spoken Reasons”, a.k.a. John A. Baker, Jr.) who accuses her of racism after she hurls a watermelon at him. Unfortunately, given the convoluted nature of this film’s moral universe, Mullins may receive a pass to balk at hackneyed victimologies only because she has already taken the litmus test and desegregated her vagina (see no. 5).

8. Drug-ambivalent. Ashburn and Mullins bond over drinks and enjoy a rowdy evening; but the hangover and the knowledge of how she behaved kills Ashburn’s buzz the following morning. A peaceable pot smoker (Reasons) minds his own business until hassled by Mullins, while her brother (Michael Rapaport) gets into more serious trouble through hard drugs. About regular old tobacco, Mullins recommends quitting because she “had a great aunt who lost most of her teeth to smoking.”

7. Multiculturalist. Federal agents contributing to the law enforcement effort include blacks, whites, and Hispanics. Even street gangs and organized crime are multiracial concerns.

6. Anti-family/anti-marriage. The Mullins family is of course grotesque and dysfunctional. Mullins, unsuitable for marriage or motherhood, gives vent to a petty resentment toward America’s ex-normalcy when she catches a family man in the act of cruising for hookers and tortures him before trying to ruin his marriage by phoning the man’s wife to tell her about it. The wife, appraised of the situation, encourages Mullins in further cruelty.

5. Pro-slut/pro-miscegenation. Ashburn and fellow agent Levy (Marlon Wayans) engage in the obligatory interracial flirtation, while “Nine out of ten guys I fuck are black guys,” Mullins boasts.

4. Obesity-tolerant. Given that 64% of American women are now overweight, it is only natural that Hollywood, with an eye to satisfying changing demographics, should give the heavyweights movie stars of their own. Now fat women not only have characters with whom they can identify, but ones who reassure them that slovenliness is desirable. Whereas overweight women in movies and television previously filled the roles of matronly types (e.g., Hattie McDaniel or Frances Bavier) or bitchy hags (Roseanne in the Barr phase of her career), obese actresses like Melissa McCarthy and Rebel Wilson represent a new mutant feminist temptress and fat pride pin-up ideal. Mullins, McCarthy’s character in The Heat, is more than once supplicated by ex-boyfriends, who follow her around like wounded puppies, salivating at the thought of another shot at a hop on the paunch. Her girth more than once makes things difficult for her, but that’s just the part of the price she has to pay for being a sexy bitch (cf. nos. 1 and 2).

3. Basically statist. The Heat would appear to be confused about the value of the various government agencies it portrays and the usefulness of their endeavors to the public these agencies purport to serve. At no point in all of the movie’s mayhem is there any indication, civic-minded lip service and back-patting notwithstanding, that FBI or DEA agents have accomplished anything for taxpayers by pursuing the endless War on Drugs. But the one man who dares to refer to his status as a taxpayer (“I pay taxes, so fuck the government”) is then immediately obliterated by a car bomb, so let that be a lesson to you.

Never mind that different federal agencies, even as depicted in The Heat, are mutually hostile and interfere with each other’s overlapping investigations. Nor should the viewer allow the fact that one of the federal agents is revealed to be in cahoots with the mob to reflect on the collective integrity of America’s civil servants. (USPS personnel are, however, represented rather poorly, with a post office hag in a bar mumbling, “Eat my fuckin’ Irish ass.”)

“When bad shit happens in my neighborhood, I get a little passionate about it,” Mullins proclaims, with unintentional humor deriving from the fact that much of the “bad shit” and violence that occurs in her neighborhood is of her own doing. At times, police work just seems to be an excuse for an officer to let off steam by harassing and physically abusing the common citizen. The most sinister aspect of The Heat‘s concept of law enforcement is that police brutality is treated so casually, normalized, in fact, as something perhaps lovably eccentric but wholesomely populist in its appeal. After all, “if you’re not in trouble, you’re not doin’ your job.”

2. Pro-castration. The Heat delights in depicting male suffering and humiliation. Mullins plays Russian roulette with a criminal’s dick and Ashburn shoots another offender twice in the crotch, with a seething hostility toward men’s genitalia permeating the film. Women determine the terms of their interactions with the men, who are left to beg for attention or mercy, as when Levy pitifully propositions Ashburn, “If you’re gonna boss me around, you could at least buy me dinner first.” It is this appalling exemplar of the sensitive man, however, who has the best shot at winning Ashburn’s affection (cf. nos. 1 and 4).

1. Feminist. Mullins makes repeated, obsessive references to testicles, including testicles for women, and is given to saying disgusting things like, “I’m balls-deep in boredom.” Tough but sensitive women in manface: this is The Heat‘s neurotic essence. But, “You go, girl!” the viewer presumably is expected to cheer at this spectacle of degeneracy – no matter how repulsive the heroines may be as they swagger around in men’s wear, ape masculine traits, shout at men, beat them up, and picturesquely point and shoot their government-issue penises.

Whatever screenwriter Katie Dippold’s intentions, however, her script has much to say about how unhappy women have made themselves by buying into the feminist fraud. Chief among the hallucinations propagated by the feminists is the idea that a woman, having paradoxically actualized her femaleness by disposing of her femininity, can somehow retain her worth as a woman rather than as the ersatz man she has chosen to become. “I’m a lady,” claims a deluded Mullins, giving voice to this untenable view. Ashburn’s careerism ended her marriage and she admits to being lonely. Her sleuthing skills may be Monk-like, but “being a woman in this field is hard. Men are just so intimidated by me.” Most men naturally find her mannishness unappealing. “Hard to believe she’s single,” a coworker observes sarcastically. There is a reason why Ashburn’s only romantic prospect at the end is a total weenie, and an African one at that, who expects her to pay for his meals in exchange for his company. But is it because white men are “intimidated” by her, or that they are simply disgusted by what she and her type have become? (cf. nos. 2 and 4)

The white guy/black guy buddy action movie, from 48 Hrs and Lethal Weapon to The Last Boy Scout, Die Hard with a Vengeance, and Bulletproof, has for decades constituted a fine tradition within the action genre. Now Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington take their place in the squabbling but comfortingly complementary ebony-and-ivory ranks of the good guys in 2 Guns, a stylish neo-western from screenwriter Blake Masters and director Baltasar Kormakur, and based on a series of comic books by Steven Grant.

Washington and Wahlberg play an undercover DEA agent and naval intelligence officer, respectively, both thinking the other is actually a crook as they each individually target Mexican drug kingpin Edward James Olmos. Eventually, having discovered each other’s identity and not sure whether they can trust each other, the two are forced to join forces again when they find themselves caught up in a convoluted mess of Mexican cartel savagery, Navy corruption, and CIA shenanigans.

Fast-paced, explosive, and often funny, 2 Guns is the quintessential summer movie experience, but tempered by more than a little healthy cynicism. 4 of 5 possible stars.

[WARNING: SPOILERS]

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that 2 Guns is:

9. Antiwar. One veteran has a hook for a hand (see also no. 1).

8. Pro-immigration. Two representatives of a Minutemen-like group, one of them wearing a Confederate flag, are made to look foolish when they stop Denzel Washington at the border, suspecting him of being a Taliban fighter, and are easily disarmed by him. The implication appears to be that any American sufficiently worried about U.S. border security to become an activist must be a racist nitwit (cf. nos. 2, 3, 4, and 6).

7. Gun-ambivalent. Wahlberg buys black market guns, discrediting notions of “gun control”; but the humiliation of the Minutemen (see no. 8) is probably also intended to demonstrate the ineffectiveness of private gun ownership as a protection when the owners are incompetent.

6. Racist! Mexicans are corrupt and untrustworthy. They are also sadistic brutes who enjoy burying chickens up to their heads and shooting at them, decapitating enemies, or tying them upside-down in a barn, beating them with a baseball bat, and letting a bull charge at them. Obese Mexicans are more than once mocked, with their greasy diet offered as one explanation (cf. nos. 2, 3, 5, and 8).

5. Black supremacist. Washington is the senior partner, the man with the brains to make a plan. Demonstrating his mental superiority, he more than once corrects Wahlberg’s pronunciation (cf. nos. 3, 4, and 6).

4. Anti-South/anti-redneck. Bill Paxton plays a sinister CIA agent bent on retrieving the money stolen from the agency by Washington and Wahlberg. His string tie and southern accent mark him as residue of the Bush years, and the sweaty glee he derives from playing Russian roulette with Washington’s crotch suggests, as with Billy Crash in Django Unchained, that the white southerner’s insecurity and sadistic hostility toward the black man derives from his penis envy and latent homosexuality (see also no. 8).

3. Multiculturalist/pro-miscegenation. The interracial camaraderie of the white guy/black guy action movie might not reflect much racial reality, but it seldom fails to entertain, providing a respite from what has become the daily race-baiting of politicians and the professional victimhood industry. Initially, Washington claims to have no “people”, but by the end the protagonists identify as “family” and “brothers”. Washington is involved in a romantic triangle with mulatto Paula Patton and white James Marsden. Wahlberg flirts with women of different races.

2. Anti-capitalistic/egalitarian. “It’s the free market,” Paxton says, “not the free world.” Olmos accuses U.S. intelligence of conspiring to keep Mexico weak and addicted to dirty money (cf. no. 6). Washington and Wahlberg think nothing of the damage they cause with arson and explosives to a bank and a perfectly innocent cafe. Simple Mexican folk stoop to gather the scattered CIA dope money after the film’s climactic battle sequence, presumably with the filmmakers’ blessing.

1. Anti-state/anti-military. The CIA extorts tribute from drug cartels, offering them in return the use of CIA planes for transporting dope into America. Washington’s DEA supervisor and girlfriend is corrupt. Naval intelligence officers are no better than bandits and think nothing of using military hardware for private projects to feather their nests. An admiral (Fred Ward), learning of his subordinates’ crimes, is only interested in covering it up. Local police are fat and useless.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson plays a trucking company owner whose inexplicably Caucasian son (Rafi Gavron) is set up, arrested for his noncommittal involvement in a friend’s ecstasy dealing, and threatened with a harsh prison sentence unless he agrees to rat out the dealers he knows.  The young man is unwilling to cooperate, but his father, the Rock, is not prepared to see his son’s best years wasted in prison and petitions federal prosecutress Susan Sarandon to allow him to use his trucking business to help her reel in a bigger fish, who turns out to be El Topo, a major player in a Mexican drug cartel.  Johnson’s decision to play the Feds’ game is more than a gamble on his personal safety; by going undercover and involving himself with gangsters, he also incriminates an ex-con employee (Jon Bernthal) attempting to go straight and endangers both men’s families in the process.

Johnson brings a great deal of monstrous manliness and gravitas to any role simply by showing his face, and has little difficulty carrying a picture on his shoulders.  Snitch‘s script, however, is nothing special, and before viewers are treated to the fantastic truck action at the climax, they must endure several mopey scenes of family anguish and of Johnson being humiliated – which, frankly, seem somewhat beneath the Rock’s dignity as a larger-than-life action commodity, attempts at faithfulness to true events notwithstanding.  Likewise, the soundtrack of melodramatic violins seems somewhat out of place in a Rock picture, which would be better served by a punchier, angrier, hip-hoppier set of sounds.  More masculine energy and more action sequences spread throughout the film would make Snitch more satisfying, but highway violence on eighteen wheels, in everything from White Line Fever to Terminator 2, has always been a blast to watch, and Snitch, too, delivers in the end, earning 3.5 of 5 possible stars.

The evidence of personal experience is that the Rock’s presence in Snitch has attracted an audience of altogether substandard human types unlikely to be interested by or even aware of meaning apart from appeal to the basest instincts; nevertheless, Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Snitch is:

7. Anti-Christian.  Sarandon’s unlikable character wears a crucifix.

6. Liberal.  “The liberals think you’re a bitch,” self-interested congressional aspirant Sarandon’s political advisor informs her.  The viewer is left to assume that she must be the film’s representative Republican.

5. Pro-miscegenation.  An outdoor barbecue social, complete with a big, squishy, interracial kiss, seems to have been inserted to show that the races can interact socially in wholesome, non-criminal contexts so as to offset the other, less optimistic depictions in the film.

4. Diversity-skeptical.  Despite nos. 5 and 6 above, America’s accelerating diversity comes across as something much less than a strength in Snitch.  Blacks and Hispanics as represented in the film are largely criminal and violent, and a significant leer from a black inmate suggests that the beatings Gavron suffers in lock-up may be the result of racial targeting.  A black receptionist is uncaring when Johnson inquires about his son; a black woman judge’s ugly face conveys naked hostility toward Gavron; and a Hispanic guard at the jail is corrupt and in league with El Topo.

3. Surprisingly pro-liberty.  Johnson buys a gun to protect himself on the climactic run.  It works.

2. Pro-family.  Johnson and Bernthal, parallel characters in their concern for their respective sons, are good fathers at least in that they want to do the best thing for their families.  Both men have regretfully failed in this in multiple instances, with Bernthal having spent time in prison and Johnson’s first marriage having ended in divorce.  Still, family bonds are of central importance and motivate both protagonists.

1. Anti-state, at least with regard to the War on Drugs.  The threatened sentence for Johnson’s son is correctly depicted as overly harsh, as minimum sentence legislation aimed at locking up drug kingpins has instead had a disproportionate impact on low-level players in the trade.  Sarandon admits that the War on Drugs has been a failure, but persists in prosecuting it with a vengeance to score political points in her congressional campaign.  She is quite prepared, furthermore, to sacrifice innocent lives in achieving her personal ambitions.  The end credits prompt viewers to visit takepart.com/snitch, which, in addition to promoting the movie, offers statistics and a petition to end the high minimum sentences for minor drug offenders.  The film also implies that prison reform is necessary.

Oliver Stone’s Savages presents two visions of the drug business.  One of these, ruthlessly violent and treacherous, is dictated by current prohibition policy.  The second vision, embodied in laid-back, idealistic botanist and philanthropic entrepreneur Ben, who, along with his enforcer, “Iraq psycho” Chon, runs California’s gourmet pot, is clearly what Oliver Stone prefers.  Savages posits that it’s only a matter of time before drugs are legalized in the U.S., which means that every cartel and worthless DEA leech are looking to grab everything they can as quickly and viciously as possible.  Trouble begins for Ben and Chon when Salma Hayek’s cartel tries to buy them out, and meeting resistance, kidnaps their mutual lover, O.

This being an Oliver Stone joint, paranoia is of course always present, but acid trip visuals are kept to a minimum, and the story – more of a multiple character study than an action flick – never slows down long enough to fail to be interesting.  The lead actors are acceptable, but the supporting cast especially shines.  Benicio Del Toro is fun as a seedy and barely human Mexican enforcer, while Hayek is commended for accepting and bringing to life a decidedly unglamorous and surprisingly vulnerable role.  Last but not least, massage parlor maniac John Travolta sleazes it up as a weaselly DEA tax-waster.  A superfluous double ending gimmick doesn’t quite work for me, but Savages is, overall, not at all a bad way to spend two hours.  4 strung-out stars on the 5-scale.

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Savages is:

7. Pro-miscegenation (white guy, Mexican girl)

6. Green

5. Antiwar

4. Pro-philanthropy (i.e., voluntary redistribution)

3. Pro-slut.  Two guys for every girl – only in California!

2. Anti-state, with prohibition and DEA duplicity ultimately responsible for the violence of the drug business.

1. Pro-drug/pro-legalization

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