Natural Born Killers Movie Review

Violence got the star treatment in the early '90s. With much of America feeling powerless to stem the crime and gang culture that seemed to be on the rise, we began to react to the ocean of carnage that dominated popular culture. Congress held hearings about violence on television, the finishing moves in Mortal Kombat, and Body Count's otherwise obscure gangsta-metal single "Cop Killer." For a while, blaming the pervasiveness of fake violence for real-world murder and assaults came to be as fashionable as flannel shirts and ripped jeans.

And yet, America kept consuming it. Snoop Dogg sold millions of CDs, video games amped up the gore, and children could quote the grisly details of the O.J. Simpson murder trial as if it were written by Dr. Seuss.

Among this bipolar atmosphere of fascination and revulsion, Oliver Stone made Natural Born Killers. Not quite a satire, not quite an exploitation flick, NBK was an epic, frenzied, wildly entertaining meta-movie that skewered the sick symbiosis between violent criminals and the media/Hollywood/celebrity complex. It was met with acclaim by those who got it, and derision by those who didn't.

The mayhem of NBK begins when Mickey (Woody Harrelson), a working-class bumpkin whose spirit has been poisoned by too much TV, rescues his teenage girlfriend Mallory (Juliette Lewis) from her household. The home, a filthy sitcom set complete with incessant laugh track, is lorded over by a darkly abusive and unforgettable Rodney Dangerfield.

Mickey's liberation of Mallory begins an amoral Southwestern road trip of killing, hallucinogens, torture, kidnapping, and more killing. At the end of each spree, they leave one survivor to tell the story to a ravenous press. Their exploding fame, popularity even, drives sadomasochistic super-cop Jack Scagnetti (Tom Sizemore) to hunt the two like a ravenous grizzly stalking prey, while tabloid TV producer Wayne Gale (Robert Downey Jr with a sleazy English accent) tries to get the "get" with the couple as their reputation grows.

This is not a normal movie, even for Oliver Stone. Mickey and Mallory's scattered psyches splatter the screen with rapidly switching media that jumps from sitcom to animation to cheesy movie set to video to grainy black-and-white, often for just seconds at a time. And Stone makes NBK exhilarating by artfully adorning the killing scenes with imaginative photography and rock music, incurring among his audience the uncomfortable effect of simultaneously enjoying and tsk-tsking the violence. Some critics labeled it hypocrisy, but NBK brilliantly leaves the attentive viewer with more questions as to whether they're part of the solution or the problem itself. It's as if Stone is saying, "Of course entertainment is violent and violence is entertaining. Look, I'm doing it right now. So what are you going to do about it?"

Natural Born Killers is neither porno nor sermon; it's both, and it works miraculously.

Comments

Natural Born Killers Rating

" Excellent "

Rating: R, 1994

Advertisement

More Woody Harrelson

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 Trailer

With the incredible ramifications of the end of the yearly ritualistic sacrificial televised Hunger Games, the world is thrown into disarray when the supposed saviour...

Colin Farrell Adds Another Gig To The Comeback List With Dolce & Gabbana Campaign

Colin Farrell – heartthrob, new star of True Detective and now, the face of Dolce & Gabbana’s scent Intenso. It’s a perfect fit, right?Colin Farrell...

Watch Kate Mara & Ellen Page As "Terrible" 'Tiny Detectives' In 'True Detective' Parody [Video]

Kate Mara and Ellen Page parody HBO's True Detective and their own short statures in a new Funny or Die video.Kate Mara at New York...

Rachel McAdams In 'True Detective 2' Talks & Other Cast Rumours

Rachel McAdams is rumoured to be in talks with the makers of the second series of True Detective. The 35-year-old Canadian actor is not the...

Advertisement

Primetime Emmy Awards 2014 -Breaking Bad Predictably Dominates Drama

The Primetime Emmy Awards were held on Monday evening (25th August) in Los Angeles and there was stiff competition in every category although the results...

'True Detective' Season 2 "Not as Dark". Does That Mean "Not as Good?"

True Detective season 2 will be less dark then the acclaimed original season starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, according to HBO programming president Michael...

What You Need To Know About the 'True Detective' Plagiarism Row

So you've heard about the True Detective 'plagiarism row'. You've heard about Thomas Ligotti, and Nic Pizzolatto, and Rust Cohle's monologues - but how does...

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 'Our Leader The Mockingjay' Trailer

Katniss Everdeen has survived the latest political disaster of Panem following the shocking 75th Hunger Games. Her home, District 12, has been destroyed with her...

Advertisement