The Salma Hayek Crime Thriller On Netflix That Deserves More Attention

By Jessica Goudreault | Updated

Salma Hayek in Savages

There is no shortage of entertaining movies out there, but there’s a certain crime thriller that is streaming on Netflix right now that is begging to be watched. Savages, a 2012 movie starring Aaron-Taylor Johnson, Taylor Kitsch, Blake Lively, and Salma Hayek, is worth a watch or a re-watch if you haven’t seen it in a while. It’s a fun ride that’s packed with drugs, sex, action, violence, and even more drugs.

Savages is one of the dumbest, yet fun, crime thrillers available on Netflix.

In Savages, best friends Ben and Chon start their own marijuana business in California, and it flourishes beyond what they could have ever expected. In fact, their business became so successful that it caught the attention of the Mexican drug cartel. When confronted by the cartel’s drug enforcer, the best friends attempt to abandon their business and flee the country, but things get much more complicated for them.

The cartel kidnaps Ophelia, Ben and Chon’s shared girlfriend, forcing the two best friends to team up with the DEA to get her back while trying to take down the cartel. It turns the film from a light-hearted, positive story of success to a dark and violent drama that will have you yearning for salvation.

Savages was directed by Oliver Stone, the creative mind behind classic films like Natural Born Killers, JFK, and Platoon. He and writer Shane Salerno developed the screenplay based on the novel of the same name by Don Winslow. In 2012, the author wrote a prequel to the original novel entitled The Kings of Cool, but that has not been adapted into a movie, at least not yet.

Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Taylor Kitsch, and Blake Lively in Savages

The cast of Savages is filled with talented Hollywood stars, including Aaron-Taylor Johnson, who plays Ben, the businessman who knows how to grow the best marijuana, and Taylor Kitsch, who plays Chon, the military veteran who smuggles the best marijuana seeds out of Afghanistan.

Blake Lively stars as Ophelia (who goes by O), the gorgeous free spirit who dates both Ben and Chon at the same time. John Travolta plays DEA Agent Dennis Cain, while Benicio del Toro plays Miguel “Lado” Arroyo, the Mexican drug cartel enforcer.

Salma Hayek plays the villain in Savages, Elena “La Reina” Sanchez, based on Mexico’s first female cartel boss.

Salma Hayek stars as Elena “La Reina” Sánchez, the leader of the drug cartel who proves to be heartless and vindictive, always getting what she wants. This is a standout role for the actress, who often plays the role of a love interest or an antagonist. Her performance in Savages, which is loosely based on Mireya Moreno Carreon, Mexico’s first female cartel boss, earned her a nomination at the 2012 ALMA Awards for Favorite Movie Actress in a Drama/Adventure.

While much of Savages takes place in Laguna Beach, California, most of the filming was actually shot in the Pacific Palisades neighborhood of Los Angeles. The production designer Tomas Voth wanted to use real marijuana plants for the film’s business nursery but wasn’t allowed due to some legal restraints, so they packed the estate full of fake marijuana plants.


The chemistry between Aaron-Taylor Johnson, Taylor Kitsch, and Blake Lively seems very natural on screen, but when the three had to film a sex scene, Taylor Kitsch shared that he was actually very nervous. It was one of the first scenes that was filmed, and he had only known Blake Lively for a few days. Plus, this was right around the time she got married to Ryan Reynolds, so that must have been quite intimidating.

Critics liked Savages, including the legendary Roger Ebert, who gave the film three and a half stars out of four.

Savages was released in theaters on July 6, 2012, and it earned $16.2 million on its opening weekend. Overall, it managed to earn $82 million against a production budget of $45 million. Even though it wasn’t a box office flop, it still managed to earn back nearly double its production budget.

The crime thriller received a lot of positive reviews, with many captivated by the intense action, sultry sex appeal, and the turmoil that the characters have to face. Critic Roger Ebert even gave the film three and a half out of four stars, citing that he was impressed by John Oliver’s ability to balance the business and financial aspect of the film with the drug element, revealing just how much they have in common.

If you’re looking for two hours of solid entertainment, then check out Savages while it’s currently streaming on Netflix.