Don Winslow is one of my very favorite writers. I know he’s not for everyone, because his stories often have extreme violence in them. But his characters, his settings, his plots … they’re as good as it gets. He doesn’t have a real series like the one-character writers, but he has revisited some of his characters now and then. He recently wrote a prequel to the book this one was based on, and I liked it a lot. The strange threesome of Ben, Chon and O (short for Ophelia) are some of his best creations.
Ben and Chon have bred the absolute best marijuana on the planet, and have made a lot of money doing so. But money was never what it was all about, it was about good grass. They have a posse of loyal friends who do most of the work growing and selling the weed, and lots of grateful buyers, from surfers to lawyers. But now the Mexican cartels have noticed them, and intend to take them over.
And Ben and Chon say, fine! Take it! Who wants to get mixed up with psychopaths like Benicio del Toro, or Salma Hayek? Only it’s not that simple. Soon they are bathing in blood, doing anything in their power to get the kidnapped O back from truly evil people.
The movie goes on very well indeed until the last ten minutes, when it squanders all the goodwill it had built up with one of the worst cop-out endings I’ve ever seen. A truly awful ending. Don Winslow was one of the co-writers, but director Oliver Stone was another, and I can’t help thinking Stone had a big hand in it. I think you might be able to get a lot of enjoyment out of most of the movie (if extreme violence doesn’t put you off) but you’ll have to ignore the ending.
And BTW … I have to say that even extreme violence can be relative. This movie is quite bloody, but it’s not one thousandth as bloody as the stuff that happens down there in Mexico every goddam day, and all because of our insane attitude to a harmless weed. Legalize it, goddam it!