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The Boston Globe


Oliver Stone is back, with a cannabis consultant

We might be accused of missing the point of Oliver Stone’s career, but for us, the films in which the director has eased up on his grand, definitive statements — on Vietnam, Wall Street, the presidency, even Jim Morrison and the NFL — have been among his most compelling. The thematically slim “U Turn” (1997) is terrifically sleazy neo-noir, and “Natural Born Killers” (1994) is so frenetically cracked, its satirical commentary on tabloid culture is practically breezy (you know, in an unconscionably violent sort of way). “Savages” (2012) marks Stone’s return to this form, in some ways as brazenly as ever, in others with an occasional hint that he’s mellowed. Aaron Johnson and Taylor Kitsch play, respectively, sensitive and scary-soldierly Southern California buds with a booming pot-growing business, and a communal relationship with Blake Lively that’s beyond progressive. When an encroaching Mexican operation puts Lively in danger, the boys wrestle — brutally — with icy cartel boss Salma Hayek, indelibly gonzo right hand Benicio del Toro, and corrupt fed John Travolta. Stone throttles back his familiar visual kinetics (sensing, perhaps, the new industry norm he’s helped influence?), and even the disc’s unrated cut lacks danger at points. But just when you feel like you’re watching “Traffic”-lite, Stone’s bromance busts out the graphic sex, the torture, and the trippy narrative flourishes. Annnnd . . . he’s back. Extras: Featurettes touch on genre author Don Winslow’s source novel, and how stickler-for-detail Stone brought in a “cannabis consultant” for authenticity. (Universal, $29.98; Blu-ray, $34.98)


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