Review of Natural Born Killers (1994)

16 May

Natural Born Killers (1994) is a thriller/crime/comedy movie, which follows a couple on a killing spree and it’s portrayal in media.

Directed by Oliver Stone (Platoon (1986), Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010)).

Written by Oliver Stone (Scarface (1983), Alexander (2004)), David Veloz (Permanent Midnight (1998), Behind Enemy Lines (2001)), Richard Rutowski and story by Quentin Tarantino (True Romance (1993), Reservoir Dogs (1992)).

Starring: Woody Harrelson, Juliette Lewis, Robert Downey Jr., O-Lan Jones, Tom Sizemore, Rodney Dangerfield and others.

From the first frames you understand that this won’t be a conventional movie. I thought „Hey, this has a cool Tarantino-esque vibe to it”, but soon I realised that this is too crazy even for Tarantino, who originally wrote the script, but it was re-written so much he is only credited as the author of the story. Not that Tarantino wouldn’t make this movie, he unsuccessfully tried, but this is not the way he would have made it.

It constantly changes the visual styles, basically using every kind of filter, film stock, digital video format and lens Oliver Stone could get his hands on. If you had asked me before if that sounds like something good, I’d say „well, it might look interesting for 15 minutes, but then it would get self-indulgent and tiring”, but the fact is, it doesn’t. It is fascinating. At first I was a bit confused, especially when it first did this thing, where a dialogue is delivered and then repeated in black & white from different angle and slightly different delivery. When you realize what Stone does there, it’s pretty awesome. It must have been so fun for him to just go crazy and try whatever he wants.

The grotesque visuals also make the violence seem both more disturbing and kind of mesmerizing. So if you like Tarantino’s aesthetics of violence, this is somewhere along those lines. The whole thing feels like watching a really good movie during a bad acid trip.

Woody Harrelson is bad ass in this, a great performance. I have been always not sure about Juliette Lewis, I’ve always seen her as sort of annoyingly eccentric, yet undoubtedly talented. This movie was it, she is one of the greatest actresses of… this generation? I’ve never understood what generation is this and what’s the last generation. So, she’s really good and I can’t believe she’s only 21 in this. No one can pull off this combination of repulsive, sexy and batshit insane, like she does here. She and Harrelson is just perfect as this very stylised 90’s version of Bonnie and Clyde.

Robert Downey Jr. is in this as like an Australian TV reporter with a mullet. Yes, there was a time when he didn’t play billionaire playboys, except for Charlie Chaplin in Chaplin. Tarantino’s script was focusing on this character and although I could see it working, I think it is better this way as we actually follow these serial killers.

And the movie actually has a message. Stone’s tendency to hit the viewer over the head with it actually works to this movie’s benefit. A message that in this age of internet is even more current than back then. Now we idolize every fucking new thing and I don’t think it would be all that surprising if there appeared a movement all about some serial killer. Take the TV show Dexter, if news got out that there is in real-life a guy who kills only criminals, people would go crazy over him, he’d be the second coming of Jesus fucking Christ all over the faces of those who suck on the glorious dick of mass media. That’s right. We’re there, people.

Overall, an excellent and bold movie from a time when Oliver Stone still madecool movies and it’s one of those movies that makes 90’s seem a lot cooler than they actually were. Definitely recommended.

Pictured: 1990’s, when red fishnet shirts were cool… no, wait, I can’t say that. Fishnet shirts were never cool. Although, Woody does rock this one.

3 Responses to “Review of Natural Born Killers (1994)”

  1. Aloha Mister Hand May 17, 2012 at 4:35 am #

    Great review! I too love this movie, for all the reasons you mentioned. It’s definitely manic, in a good way, and just something to behold. I don’t think this film would’ve worked with a different cast or crew. They were all perfect. Nice job!

    • karlails May 17, 2012 at 11:02 am #

      Thanks. I agree, this movie is like a beautiful coincidence of perfectly chosen people and it could’ve gone so wrong.

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