When you combine a story by Quentin Tarantino and the directorial style of Oliver Stone, you know you are going to get something unique to filmmaking, and Natural Born Killers is very much that.
It is also the title on the What Else to Watch list from DK Books’ The Movie Book following their recommendation of Bonnie and Clyde. The film is packed with star power, from the main cast, right down through the supporting players, Woody Harrelson, Juliette Lewis, Tommy Lee Jones, Robert Downey Jr., Tom Sizemore, Rodney Dangerfield, and more.
The cast are plunged into a world that is not so much a distortion of the one we live in, but perhaps a clearer more terrifying reflection of it. There is commentary on the violence that permeates the world, the glorification of it for ratings, the rise of tabloid media, and the near cult status that is imbued on mass murderers and serial killers.
Harrelson and Lewis are Mickey and Mallory, a pair of psychopaths who find each other, in the grimy, tv-soaked world we live in, where abuse can be laughed at and violence applauded, and the pair begin a bloodbath across America, which turns them into international stars.
They are pursued by Scagnetti (Sizemore), held in a prison run by Warden McClusky (Jones) and have a live interview with Wayne Gale (Downey) during a riot.
Featuring a mish-mash of visual styles running from grainy black and white, sitcom camera-work, animation, to saturated colors, and inserted images, we follow Mickey and Mallory through a hell that they revel in, taking lives as easily as they trade kisses.
The film is an all-barrels blazing, not very subtle commentary on the state of the world in general, and the United States specifically in its glorification of violence, and how we as media consumers seem to thrive on it.
And there are no good guys or bad guys in the entire film, every one is shaded, except for perhaps one character played by Russell Means, who due to his nature, of course, is doomed.
Natural Born Killers is a gut-punch of over the top violence and cynicism, as Mickey and Mallory celebrate death, and murder even as they are reunited in the midst of a prison riot, and are able to touch one another for the first time in over a year, all under Gale’s less than objective camera lens.
Layered in images, sounds, themes, commentaries and performances, Natural Born Killers is a rough, hard watch that captivates you. You are unable to look away from the gruesomeness, the horror, that is the dark mirror Stone holds up to the viewer’s world.
DK Books’ The Movie Book continues to bring me thought provoking, powerful films to expand my cinematic education. And you too can find something amazing to watch if you pick one up today!