Natural Born Killers

"Excellent"

Natural Born Killers 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.



Natural Born Killers

Facts and Figures

Genre: Action/Adventure

Run time: 118 mins

In Theaters: Friday 26th August 1994

Budget: $34M

Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures

Production compaines: Warner Bros. Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 47%
Fresh: 16 Rotten: 18

IMDB: 7.3 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Mickey Knox, as Mallory Knox, Robert Downey Jr. as Wayne Gale, as Warden Dwight McClusky, as Det. Jack Scagnetti, as Mallory's Dad, as Mallory's Mom, as Old Indian, as Deborah, as Kevin

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Fences Movie Review

Fences Movie Review

After winning Tony Awards on Broadway, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis reteam for a film...

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

A spin-off from 2014's awesome The Lego Movie, this raucously paced action-comedy is proof that...

The Space Between Us Movie Review

The Space Between Us Movie Review

While the premise of this movie makes it look like a sci-fi adventure, the truth...

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

On paper, the idea of a two-hour 40-minute German comedy may not seem very promising,...

Gold Movie Review

Gold Movie Review

Based on a true story, this lively and sometimes outrageous adventure is packed with twists...

Loving Movie Review

Loving Movie Review

While this film tackles a huge issue in the history of race relations in America,...

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

It's been 20 years since we last saw four freewheeling young junkies from Edinburgh spiral...

Advertisement
Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Based on an astounding true story, this battlefield drama mixes warm emotion with intense action...

Sing Movie Review

Sing Movie Review

The quality of the animation in this musical comedy may not be up to Pixar...

Jackie Movie Review

Jackie Movie Review

Rather than make a standard biopic about the most famous First Lady in American history,...

Split Movie Review

Split Movie Review

After a few badly received sci-fi blockbusters, M. Night Shyamalan returned to his earthier style...

xXx: Return of Xander Cage Movie Review

xXx: Return of Xander Cage Movie Review

It's been 15 years since Vin Diesel walked away from his XXX role, killing off...

Manchester by the Sea Movie Review

Manchester by the Sea Movie Review

This may not be the cheeriest movie of the season, but it's so skilfully written,...

Live By Night Movie Review

Live By Night Movie Review

Ben Affleck launched his directing career 10 years ago with his film of Dennis Lehane's...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.