Phips’s review published on Letterboxd :
So I got to see this at a free screening since I work for Universal Pics.
I'd heard plenty of negativity about this film, which apparently was backed up by its poor B.O. numbers on its opening weekend. Still though, I think this film is gonna be badass. Bring on the over-the-top violence and the bad mother fucker that is Benicio del Toro.
No idea why Oliver Stone wanted Jennifer Lawrence for the role of O. She wouldve been awful...she's not slutty enough. Blake Lively is though so she was perfect for the role.
As for her acting..well, she can't act, so she was terrible. Taylor Kitsch wasnt that bad. And Aaron Johnson..Kick-Ass (seriously?)..he was better than those two. And what is there to say about BDT? He's a boss..any time he plays a badass Mexican mixed up in illegal stuff, he's gonna be great. Salma Hayek was superb in my opinion; she did a great job as the drug queen. Travolta? Well he was just goofy. But he was okay. Of course for a film like this you cant expect great acting..this film was never gonna have that. The best we could hope for was plenty of sex, drugs, and violence.
All three of those things were rampant. Oliver Stone sure loves his drugs. The violence wasn't over the top or excessive..or so I thought. It was the right amount for this film and its plot.
The narration throughout the film was god awful. I don't know if it was the writing (script and/or novel) or Blake Lively..or some combination of both..but it was just bad.
Adam Peters wrote a great score in my opinion. The mexican aspects of it were great and the strings and rock n roll bits were very fitting and well done.
So what about the double ending? Hmm..I dont get it. Maybe I need to read the book. I wish it had ended the first way..although that way was a little corny. Why would O run out? How is Lado such a beast? Wtf is Chonn doing? Is this Romeo and Juliet of sorts? But still, the first is better than the nicely wrapped second.
Overall this film was pretty cool. Badass..but nothing to write home about or cause me to see it twice in theaters. It was one of my must-see three for this summer. I'm a little bit disappointed....just a little bit.
I just read Don Winslow's novel that this film is based on. As usual, I like the film version better. Although, the book didn't really have an overarching narrator, like O was in the film; that was something I wish they brought to the book--I hated O's narration. Aside from that, the parts where the film is the same as the book were great and the parts where it was different were better. For example, Dennis (Travolta) has a much smaller role in the book than here in the film; I think Stone made a good move expanding the role and character's importance. For the ending..or endings...the book's ending was the first/Shakespearean ending and it wasn't as good as the film's take on it. Seeing as the book didn't have two endings, I'm not sure why Oliver Stone put that "extra" ending in...stupid move on his part in my opinion.