Beausephus's Reviews > Savages

Savages by Don Winslow
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Jul 10, 2012

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bookshelves: cultural-explorations, modern-noir-and-crime
Read in July, 2012

With all of the buzz surrounding the movie based on this book and a write up of the author in GQ I picked up Don Winslow’s SAVAGES hoping for a crime story that lived up to the hype surrounding it. While SAVAGES is a frenetic series of explosive scenes the premise on which the entire plot hangs is B movie material at best. Winslow is a talented writer bringing to the page the multi-genre approach that Oliver Stone’s NATURAL BORN KILLERS brought to the silver screen. It is clear that if Stone, who directed the movie version of SAVAGES, brings this established proclivity to jump cuts and melodrama, the film will be a faithful and enjoyable adaptation. The danger of SAVAGES that any adaptation or reader could fall prey to is taking the plot and characters too seriously. At the heart of SAVAGES is not a progressive crime thriller but a testosterone fueled revenge story in the vein of 1970s Burt Reynolds movies or a risqué Paul Verhoven flick. While Winslow is quite talented bring a unique style to his narrative the central plot itself is over-the-top and ludicrous. If you accept this basic fact you can get lost in Winslow’s prose which hurtles you through the story, blowing through cliché with flash and style obfuscating base archetype characters with breakneck pace and infectious wit and unabashed smarmy sass. To hail SAVAGES as a great novel is a disservice. Winslow is clearly talented and his unique storytelling, while seemingly new to the page seems almost derivate when compared to hyper-edited Hollywood blockbusters. There is freshness to Winslow’s homage upon homage, and while the ride itself is enjoyable after it is all over there is nothing of substance there which renders the thrill of the chase almost disappointing when all is done.
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