Director Oliver Stone ("W.") brings us an R-rated violent, bloody, repug- nant visualization of the contemporary drug business in California and Mexico. We already know the death toll approaches 50,000 for the last six years. (Why do Americans keep buying drugs and by so doing, contribute to the deaths of Mexicans, many of whom are innocent?) An unlikely but inseparable trio of "peaceful, California pot growers" go up against a Mexican drug cartel.
  • Taylor Kitsch ("John Carter") is Chon, Special-Ops trained but derailed by the two people he loves.
  • Blake Lively ("Gossip Girl"), a California blonde, is O, a delec- table dimwit who loves BOTH of the guys in their little ménage à trois. When taken hostage, her chronic drug use backfires on her.
  • Aaron Johnson ("Albert Nobbs") is Ben, the soulful botanist who has developed a highly marketable (i.e., potent) variety of marijuana.
  • John Travolta ("From Paris With Love"), sporting one face-lift too many, is Dennis, the go-to guy in the government, who plays all sides against the middle.
  • Benicio del Toro ("The Wolfman") is Lado, an hombre with slip- pery loyalties. His character seems to take pleasure in devising creative ways to torture and kill.
  • Salma Hayak ("Grown Ups") is Elena, the jefa of a major cartel. She has political, economic and geographic concerns but remains in charge.
  • Emile Hirsch ("Milk") is Spin, the tech whiz who can create a paper trail that will lead the best tracker astray.
Man's inhumanity to man is singularly repellent to me. Even though I tried to avoid looking at the screen, I came out with enough chaotic images of drug use, sexual encounters, beheadings, whippings, tortures, gunfire and blowie uppie stuff to last me a lifetime. I don't know, and I don't want to know, these methods, so I recoil from the images.

Near the conclusion, Stone pulled a cinematic trick that triggered a col- lective groan from our screening audience. As we exited the theater, we realized that none of us knew exactly how it ended...nor did we care...
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Here is a link to a preview:
* * * * * * * * * * * *