Two victims of traumatized childhoods become lovers and psychopathic serial murderers irresponsibly glorified by the mass media.Two victims of traumatized childhoods become lovers and psychopathic serial murderers irresponsibly glorified by the mass media.Two victims of traumatized childhoods become lovers and psychopathic serial murderers irresponsibly glorified by the mass media.
That said, if you can handle the level of violence and take it tongue-in-cheek, "Natural Born Killers" is so bizarre and funny that it's worth the "trip." (Pun intended.) This is a crazy drug odyssey that would have made Hunter S. Thompson look like Ronald Reagan. The film is twisted, outlandish and out of its mind -- Oliver Stone has gone stone-cold crazy and it's awesome.
Despite my reservations about his lack of subtlety, there is a flip side to the coin: It is a story about excess. Stone's film-making has gone somewhat awry over the years (look at the pointless excess of his films after this), but this fits the bill because it IS a story of excess.
Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis play the titular "Natural Born Killers," Mickey and Mallory, a pair of crazy serial killers who both suffered traumatic childhoods and are now rampaging America on a literal killing spree.
After they are finally apprehended, the media has by now turned them into such icons and glorified personalities that the public and media seems to respect them as titans of filth.
This is where the social satire of the film comes into play, essentially saying: We focus more on the killers than the heroes.
I do think it's a bit hypocritical of Oliver Stone to attempt to point this out, as he is a die-hard liberal at his core and, as the controversy surrounding this film's release proved, the conservatives are too conservative to praise killers. It seems to be the liberal media that glorifies violence (to some extent of course) so I thought Stone would be the last person to ever criticize the media.
So yes it does come across as somewhat of a moot point but nevertheless the film is still enjoyable despite its sometimes sickening amount of over-the-top violence (the opening sequence of the Director's Cut is stomach-turning).
The cast is superb - Rodney Dangerfield, Robert Downey Jr., Tommy Lee Jones, Tom Sizemore, Edie McClurg (the rental car agent from "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" and Rooney's assistant in "Ferris Bueller"!) and Denis Leary and Ashley Judd in deleted scenes included in the Director's Cut.
The story was conceived by Quentin Tarantino (and it's very similar to his "True Romance" script -- a sort of modern-day "Bonnie and Clyde Redux") and re-written by Stone (much to the chagrin of QT). I'm not sure which would have made for a better film but, despite its flaws (which are mainly a none-too-subtle message and too much violence), "Natural Born Killers" is a sort of bizarre, outlandish masterpiece of drugged-out cinema. --
- May 4, 2005