Saturday, October 21, 2017

Film Review: Natural Born Killers (1994)

Natural Born Killers (Review)
United States/1994
Format Viewed for Review: VUDU
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No
*A 31 Days of Halloween Special Review!

"...a violent, disturbing, and entertaining movie with compelling themes."

Mickey Knox (Woody Harrelson) and his wife Mallory (Juliette Lewis) embark on a violent killing spree while the media glorifies their actions...

Natural Born Killers is a satirical crime/horror movie—at least, I've always thought of it as a horror movie. The film follows Mickey and Mallory, a couple of lovers who were traumatized by abuse during their childhoods. They find love and purpose in each other, so they get married and they embark on a killing spree. Meanwhile, Wayne Gale (Robert Downey Jr.), a self-serving journalist, profiles Mickey and Mallory for his show, glorifying their crimes for higher ratings. Detective Jack Scagnetti (Tom Sizemore) also hunts the couple, although his investigation is thin—I wish we saw more of him. It leads to a violent climax and a great ending.

Natural Born Killers is a great film. In fact, I'd say the first half of the film is excellent, brilliant, masterful—you pick your favorite word. It is a surreal trip into the unstable minds of two troubled characters. It is bizarre but it all makes sense. Its commentary on the irresponsible media, represented by Gale, is also compelling. On top of that, that commentary continues to add to the unique storytelling. It loses some steam during its second half, though. It's not bad, but it's an obvious downgrade compared to the first half. The entire film is heavy-handed, so be warned. This isn't a subtle satire. No, this is the type that hits you over the head until you get the message, forget it, then get it again. It is darkly humorous, too. I felt bad for laughing during some of these scenes. All in all, it's a compelling and entertaining experience.

The acting is over-the-top from most of the cast. Yet, I enjoyed most of the performances. Woody Harrelson is fantastic as Mickey Knox, Robert Downey Jr. delivers a zany performance, and Tommy Lee Jones appeared to be insane. Tom Sizemore was also great. The cast was just great. The film was shot... Well, it's a unique movie. The cinematography isn't traditional. It is all over the place, but it is effective. On the other hand, I can see it being annoying at times. The screenplay was written by Richard Rutowski, David Veloz, and Oliver Stone, based on a story by Quentin Tarantino; Stone also directs. The writing, although lacking subtlety, is interesting, clever, and compelling. It sets out to make a point, and it does that. Stone's direction is also heavy-handed, but it is undoubtedly daring, engrossing, and effective.

Overall, Natural Born Killers is a great film. It is a violent, disturbing, and entertaining movie with compelling themes. It isn't subtle and that might bother some people, but it is still an incredible cinematic experience.

Overall, 8/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and gore, sex and nudity.

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