Natural Born Killers

Natural Born Killers

I guess I was born… born bad.

I’m going to say something, a comparison, that, if you know nothing of Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers, will seem a little silly to you: this film reminded me of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. It doesn’t cover the same material, and it doesn’t wear its, um… “influences” on its sleeve like Loathing does, but for this film to deny what must have obviously went into making it is to deny its very essence. I’ll put it even more rudimentary than that with a simple question: How much and how many drugs was Oliver Stone on when he made this picture? A lot. A lot, a lot, of drugs.

Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis are Mickey and Mallory Knox, a couple of lovers and serial murderers who are doing whatever the hell they please across the country. While we take a ride along with them, we also follow Wayne Gale, a television shock jock host played by Robert Downey Jr, as he seeks to up his ratings with the sensationalized story of the Knoxes, and Jack Scagnetti, a scumbag of a cop played by (who else) Tom Sizemore who wants the Knoxes all for himself. This would seem like your standard modern-day Bonnie and Clyde story, and it would be, if it weren’t for the crazy headtrip of the direction Stone chooses to employ. This is by and large the strangest, most eccentric, most rapid-fire barrage of LSD-inspired images and colors and film and even animation that I have ever seen. Take Fear and Loathing, and mix it with the MTV-style of filmmaking and editing that made Run Lola Run what it was, and you have Natural Born Killers, which is definitely in the running for the title of craziest film on the List. Everything here is just wacko to an insane degree, from the cinematography and camerawork to the acting by everyone involved (including a delightfully deranged Tommy Lee Jones as a prison warden). I really can’t explain it thoroughly enough; this is one that you really do have to watch to believe it.

I don’t know how this film was made. Honestly. That the producers didn’t get the impression that this might’ve been an unorthodox film at best when they saw how it was being shot, I have no idea. That the editing of the film didn’t clue them in is a complete mystery. But what’s most boggling is that these producers, at some point, must have been shown the final cut of the film, and thought to themselves, “Yeah. We can sell this.” This is the antithesis of the concept of a salable film; this is a cult film through and through. And really, I can’t begrudge the filmmakers one bit for doing it the way they did. This would have quietly fallen through the cracks as just another Bonnie and Clyde knock-off film if it had been done any more normal than it was, so for that, Stone and his crew have succeeded in their singular quest for immortality. I can’t say with any good faith that you will enjoy this film, but this is absolutely one you should at least try at some point. Even if you end up hating it, it’s something you have likely never seen before and never will again.

Arbitrary Rating: 8/10

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