|year: 2012 cast: Taylor Kitsch, Blake Lively, Aaron Johnson, John Travolta rating: **|
The plot has Chon and best friend Ben sharing the same woman and occupation. Personality-wise they couldn’t be more different… Chon’s a bloodthirsty tough guy and Ben’s into saving the environment… yet they have pot-dealing in common. Born and raised in Laguna Beach and living the high life, things become ugly the minute a Mexican drug cartel wants to make a deal. Anyone familiar with bartering with a Cartel or Mafia will know: even if there seems to be a choice, there is no choice. You better agree or else… And that “Or Else” takes up much of the film.
After O is kidnapped by Benicio Del Toro’s sinister thug Lado, who, baggy-eyed and gun happy, is probably the most likable character: you'll anticipate his every scene. And that’s not a good thing since our heroes are supposed to be Chon and Ben, not only unrealistically taking on the entire cartel but pulling off heists even the CIA couldn't comprehend.
Enter John Travolta as a woebegone federal agent hanging with the good guys and the villains. While Salma Hayek is the head honcho, strutting around her Tijuana lair with a threat for everyone. Yet with all the characters – including Navy Seals and computer hackers – the person we’re supposed to care about most is O: if anything goes wrong, she gets it.
But Blake Lively’s performance is so dull and listless even edgy Taylor Kitsch (Chon) and vulnerable Aaron Johnson (Ben), both trying their best to matter in yet another bloody Tarantino-inspired Oliver Stone flick, are forgotten by the climax which is very… Well that’s something you must survive on your own.