Based on yet another novel this story revolves around a trio of young adults that grow and sell their own cannabis. Their stuff is so damn good it attracts attention from bigger fish that want in, of course this equals friction, kidnapping and eventual death related problems. In short its a drug film involving cartels and much violence....oh yeah.
So what does Stone give us here? what can he offer that is refreshing and new? well not much as it happens. Its the same old story I'm afraid, been there, seen it, done it. Don't get me wrong, this film is well made in every aspect, acting is solid, visuals are eye catching and violence is nasty but the whole notion is just old.
This could of been made by either Scott brothers and utilized Denzel Washington easily, its that kind of flick. The visual style is a very common flavour in recent years but it does look swish as we get flashbacks that break up the plot continuity. Add to this the slick vicious sharp violence and the film does become more interesting (in a morbid way), not much violence but what there is is enough to satisfy.
The problem is the film is slooooooooow, oh so slow, it takes ages before anything fun happens and the plot gets moving. Until then we get constant narration from Lively telling us every little plot detail as if we're children. The other thing is most of the beginning plot is merely about drugs and how these hippy-like young adults sell/grow it...up until the kidnapping of course, but even then it trudges along like a hiker knee deep in snow.
The cast helps a lot of course, the main players here being the always excellent Del Toro and the always gorgeous Hayek. What does Del Toro do? guess...he can only be one thing in a drug cartel film right? yep...the sadistic enforcer. Hayek is the cartel boss and my god she looks good, dare I say even sexier than her impressive performance in 'From Dusk Till Dawn'? If you gotta be kidnapped then you can't go far wrong than being kidnapped by Hayek in this film or reality even!. Just a shame she doesn't really come across as a badass drug cartel kingpin, she's too nice to the hostage.
Other cast includes Travolta in a small role where he kinda does what he's done before in various action flicks, be a crooked smartass. The good guys are fine but nothing special, new action boy Taylor Kitsch finally seems to have landed with something semi decent. Blake Lively looks nice and gets screwed a lot, doesn't add much else.
A good film of sorts but terribly slow and sparse of action even though you get the impression there will be lots. Some good acting saves the day for sure but despite that and the nifty camera work Stone really misses a chance to muster up a cracking tense thriller. Kinda get the impression he's trying to copy the Scott brothers and maybe even have a go at Tarantino's throne but shoots wide of the mark...if only by a relatively small margin.