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Natural Born Killers poster

Oliver Stone's controversial 1994 film that satirizes violence in American culture.

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I can't follow this plot, is Stone trying to say the media glorifies criminals and serial killers?

  • Jul 17, 2010

I am reminded of a song for this review......

"I see your face is laced with a new kind of taste
It’s great the way you waste all that space
You’re right, it’s night and I shouldn’t go outside
But if a stiletto stabs me
It’ll make your job so exciting
If a razor cut me
You can give them something worth watching"
Steve Vai:  Details at 10

It's been a long while since I've seen this movie as I've only seen it once, but trust me: once is enough.  You'll go in for the hype, you get the message and then you reach for the asprin afterword.

Why, because this movie is utterly bombastic with it's direction and handling of the message.  It's only a step above Family Guy in the subtlety and ham handedness dept of getting it's message across.  Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis play a couple of lovers both with unhappy childhoods on the run from the law who let loose their aggression in a murderous rampage on just about anyone they come across in bloody and gratuitous fashion.  Heads roll, blood spurts and even more in a very messy way and the media glorifies their rampages as if they were a rock star couple and just put out a hit record that went triple platnium.  It's been a good many years since Newsweek put Lynette Fromme on it's cover and we've come a long way since that.  The fact that this movie's debut coincided with the OJ Simpson murder trial is irony on a decadent level.

Entertaining?  Well, kinda.  The movie was interesting when it wasn't ham handed and chock full of music video cartoon visuals, dizzying camera work and jarring music.  If the movie had a more subtle and quiet tone it would have played better.  I can get the message that maybe Stone wants us to feel sick during the movie as an analogy to the sick minds who promote sick people on TV, but there had to be a less nauseating way to do it.  I must say that Robert Downey Jr is arguabbly the worst part here (you read that right) with a performance where I can't stand him as an obnoxious news repporter who can't wait to get more dirt on Mickie and Mallory.  He's got an Australian accent in a none too subtle jab at Rupert Murdoch.  I told you, subtlety is not this movie's strong point.

When Woody says in the movie trailer: "You ain't seen nothing yet" he isn't kidding.  Oliver Stone bookends the movie with some rather grizzly deaths and violence.  It certainly does deliver what it says.  The scene of Woody Harrelson (a very unassuming guy I wouldn't look at as a murderer) is led by cops in heavy shackles is a little startling to say the least.

The trailer had a nice message of telling us Oliver Stone has shown us our past, now it's time for the future and well, I can't disagree.  The news certainly does have a fixation on showing us more and more time devoted to telling us about killers and violent crime.

This movie is pretty mainstream with an A level one cast that includes Tommy Lee Jones in a small role with Woody and Juliette at the forefront.  I don't think time has been kind to the movie though as it's fallen a bit to the wayside in the last few years, along with the movies polarizing nature.

I am glad though I saw the movie though and was at least was able to see what the fuss was about.  I've seen it and don't have a real reason to repeat the experience again.

This movie is a -4 for me.  I really wanted to give it a high rating but it's too much of a headache inducer and it speaks to the audience as if it were a 7 year old, but a 7 year old isn't going to be able to sit and watch such a violent tale.  I like the casting and performances (Rodney Dangerfield even gets an oddly appropriate one as Juliette Lewis's child molesting dad) but good casting isn't enough to tell me something I already know and do it in an obnoxious way no matter how well they do their jobs. 

The negative 4 in so many ways says that theres too much that bothered me about the movie but there was something I liked about it, and again thats the casting.  I could argue the murder scenes are pretty shocking but I can go to an action movie to fill that need in a less gratuitous manner.  The reason for the shocking violence is to leave an impression similar to how Stallone's Rambo movie was meant to be ultra violent to let us realize that what happens in that movie goes on in Burma on a daily basis and so we don't forget it.  Oliver Stone I'm assuming did it to make us remember that no matter how sensational the story, people are still dead.

It's hard to reccamend this movie to anyone short of asking if they like satire or Oliver Stone.  The movie did make an impact when it debuted but as I said above, time hasn't been kind to it with more violent or more clever movies coming out. 

The movie certainly did make an impact when it hit with it's report or high violence and satire and it deserved the watch but even though I've considered visiting this again, it would be like chocolate soda.  I hadn't had it in a while and was curious to experience it again, and when I did-I wished I hadn't.  I will forgo the film and use the soda as a lesson.  The soda can at least help me wash down the asprin before Wilma Wasko reads another report on a school stabbing.

I can't follow this plot, is Stone trying to say the media glorifies criminals and serial killers? I can't follow this plot, is Stone trying to say the media glorifies criminals and serial killers?

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July 17, 2010
I have to say--I have to rewatch this since it has been awhile since I last saw it on HBO. Thanks for the review!
July 17, 2010
Got to nit-pick a point with you, sir. Robert Downey's Australian accent isn't a none-too-subtle jab at Rupert Murdoch. Murdoch's association to news was still mostly restricted to print media when NBK was made; the newly created FOX network was just starting to gain some credibility, but the Fox News Channel itself wouldn't be created for a couple of years yet. Downey's accent was actually influenced by Australian TV newsman Steve Dunleavy, whom he spent time with in preparation for the role of Wayne Gale.
July 17, 2010
Oh. Honestly I didn't know that but it's usually a safe bet that an Austaralian in conjunction with media, it's a safe bet that it's Murdoch who the target is. The way the movie is handled imo didn't help this point much either. Thank you for reading.
More Natural Born Killers reviews
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Quick Tip by . July 26, 2010
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Quick Tip by . July 13, 2010
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The movie that made us forever forget Woody the bumbling bartender from Cheers.
Quick Tip by . July 04, 2010
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Oliver Stone's migraine inducing mess adapted from Quentin Tarrantino's script about the medias obsession with making criminals and murderrers and turning them into celebrities. It's as subtle as a sledgehammer at times and you'll feel like you got hit in the head with one if you watch. The actors are good, but damn you better have asprin on hand if you watch.
Quick Tip by . June 27, 2010
ONe of the best romance movies i have EVER seen!
Quick Tip by . October 05, 2009
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Like a powder keg of controversy this Oliver Stone film is violent, chaotic, disturbing & funny all at once. A great indictment of violence.
review by . April 09, 2003
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About the reviewer
John Nelson ()
Ranked #8
Born in Wausau Wisconsin. Move at an early age to Ventura California and lived for 8 years. Growing up in a big city landscape didn't prepare me for my next move: Archbold Ohio with a population of … more
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