Strictly speaking, it took 13 years since Any Given Sunday that directing legend Oliver Stone turned to material that does not deal with actual (World Trade Center, W., Wall Street 2) or past (Alexander, diverse TV productions) events of the world history. With Savages, Stone delivered a mainstream movie that doesn't quite bring as much action to the table as one could have thought after watching the trailers for it. The reason for that could be the novel that this film is based on and which tries to tell a story and give every character enough time for development. If you don't mind occasional lenghtiness, you should give this film a chance since it has a prestigious cast (with Benicio del Toro being the secret star as a ruthless and slightly crazy cartel henchman) and beautiful camera work.
While the theaters got an R-Rated version of the movie (for strong brutal and grisly violence, some graphic sexuality, nudity, drug use and language throughout), Stone assembled a longer Unrated Version for the DVD/Blu-ray releases. This cut extends the movie by more than 10 minutes and includes solely character scenes. Especially del Toro's character Lado gets a lot darker here and we also get to know more about O, Marina and Dennis. If you look at the small changes at the end of the theatrical version, you may conclude that it tries to let Lado and Dennis appear a little more likeable.
Comparison between the Theatrical Version and the Unrated Version (both included on the US DVD by Universal)
8 differences, consisting of
5 additional scenes
1 additional scene in the theatrical version
1 scene with alternate material
The Unrated Version runs 741,6 sec. or approx. 12 minutes 22 seconds longer than the Theatrical Version.
0:34:00: A new scene which shows that Lado doesn't exactly have a happy family life. He and his wife watch their sons participating in a baseball game. Lado isn't too happy with their performances and yells commands. He thinks that his 15-year-old daughter dresses like a slut and his general discomfort about the lifestyle of his children can be smelled from a mile away. His wife isn't really happy about that attitude. He then gets a call and tells her that he's gonna be back late at night. She follows him to the car and makes a scene about how he cheats on her. He defends himself by saying that Tijuana could haunt them soon.
1:09:51: O can be heard from the off. She writes a mail to her mother and talks about her alleged vacation in France. This is accompanied by an animated sequence.
1:16:19: Lado comes home. While the children are still away, his wife is there and it becomes obvious again that she isn't happy with her husband. When he orders her to bring him a beer, she's visibly sad by his heartless behavior towards her. He asks her whether she's unhappy again and if she wastes money at her therapist. He could change that simply by knocking her up once again. That provokes her so much that she pours the beer into his face. He reacts by kicking her in the gut with his knee, causing her to double up on the floor. She cries and yells that she wants to divorce him and already talked to a lawyer. Lado replies that he'd bring the kids to Mexico and she'd never see them again. She screams at him and he attacks her. That's the Dolores he likes to have sex with, he says. Just when he's about to rape her, his mobile phone rings.
1:32:50: The scene where Marina and O talk while having dinner, comes a few minutes earlier in the Unrated. Apart from that, it is identical in both versions.
No time difference
1:40:18: O demands entrance to Marina's bedroom and the henchwoman does so reluctantly. Marina lies in bed and watches a dating show on TV. They start talking about love. Marina says that she only loved a single man in her life and the reason why she never smiles or laughs is because she has "botox of the heart". O ironically comments that there's something in Marina's face, too. Marina pretends to be mildly offended and smiles while she says that that's not the case. O notices that and says that Marina does in fact smile now. But the harmony between them doesn't last long because Marina's mobile phone rings and she switches back into her cartel leading mode. O is worried and would like to know what is going on but Marina stays vague and lets the henchwoman bring O out of the room.
2:01:25: A new scene with Dennis sitting at the death bed of his wife who is suffering from cancer. He is bitter and describes how corrupt and bad everything is, even if you're on the "right" side of the law. Compared to Wall Street or Washington, his dirty actions are laughable. He can't escape this situation and can't remember to have seen anything completely clean except for his wife. It sounds like a farewell.
Additional scene in the theatrical version
KF: 2:03:58: Small effort, big impact. The theatrical cut shows short bits of the exclusive scene of the UR with Lado and his family at the baseball game. Since the showdown already happened and we know that Lado managed to escape, it now seems as if he's happily reunited with his family and even his wife looks happy. You'd be surprised if you watch the unrated cut after this.
2:14:21: And once more a bit recycling of unrated material in the theatrical version. During O's voice-over, we see the worried Dennis sitting at his wife's bed while the UR shows him smiling at the police press conference. This is followed by a shot of Lado doing his usual "garden work".
The UR runs 4.76 sec. longer