Oliver Stone released Platoon, his first significant movie in 1986. That was followed by Wall Street in 1987. Before that he had worked on the scripts for 80’s classics like Scarface and Conan the Barbarian. It’s impossible to think of the 80’s without Oliver Stone and it’s impossible to think of Olive Stone without the 80’s.
Oliver Stone’s career ended when the 80’s did. JFK was the last movie that Oliver Stone made that anyone cared about. Like most of his movies, it was loud, dumb and stupid. It got your attention and hoped you wouldn’t realize how much of your time it wasted once it had it.
Stone in the 90’s kept trying to be Oliver Stone in the 80’s. Natural Born Killers was loud and stupid. But it was ignored, except as a goat for advocates against violence in film. Oliver Stone went back to Vietnam, he went back to Nixon, he did loud and stupid. but no one was paying attention anymore.
Things got worse the next decade. He kept trying to talk to the Zeitgeist, but the Big Z had moved on. In Natural Born Killers, Stone proved he had nothing to say about violence in the culture. In World Trade Center, W and a Wall Street sequel, he proved that he had nothing to say about terrorism, Bush or Wall Street. It was all coming up empty.
Harvesting more 80’s chic, Stone went south of the border looking for some of that Sandinista energy, but no one cared. The 80’s were done. Oliver Stone giggling with Hugo Chavez over drug jokes wasn’t anything. Just more 80’s smoke. The big stuff was going on in Pakistan, while Stone was still searching South of the Border.
And now Stone gives us Savages. Savages is the real Miami Vice. Forget Michael Mann, Savages is real Miami Vice. All those colors, all those guns and all those tilted shots. A classic R Rated 80’s boys against the mob movie. They used to roll them out by the dozen. But no one makes those anymore. No one except Oliver Stone. Prisoner of the 80’s.
How retro is savages? The script comes from Stone and a guy who wrote the Shaft remake in the 90’s, one of the Alien vs Predator movies and a bunch of episodes for the Hawaii 5-0 reboot.
Poor Oliver Stone. The man just cannot escape the 80’s. His scripts, his esthetic, his whole focus was flash frozen in 1986. He hasn’t evolved or learned anything new. He can’t. All he can do is post-process Vietnam, chew over the 70’s, turn out unironic pulp fiction like Savages, biopics of “great men and women”, play around with his bag of visual tricks and try to be a Great Director.
But what is a Great Director? The answers vary, but most of them concede that it isn’t Oliver Stone.