Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Losing it

This film is an excellent and faithful adaption of the Hunter S. Thompson book of the same name. It recounts the drug fuelled adventures of Hunter (played by Johnny Depp) and his wild lawyer, Dr. Gonzo, (played by Benicio Del Toro) in Las Vegas in the early sixties. Hunter is given a writing assignment in Las Vegas and his lawyer insists upon accompanying him. They prepare by collecting a mass assortment of mind bending substances before setting out. Needless to say the drugs make for an interesting adventure as the two main characters drag each other into a hilariously dangerous situation. One of the most memorable scenes sees a wasted Hunter with cocaine round his nostrils and a suitcase full of highly illegal substances entering the lobby of a large hotel which is hosting a police convention. Paranoia soon sets in.

Having read the book I always thought that it would be difficult to translate it into film however this is acheived with great style by Terry Gilliam. He manages, in his own unique way, to give the film a certain look and in places a hallucinatory, dream-like quality which brings across to the viewers what is going on in the fried mind of Thompson. The music is also well chosen and compliments Hunter´s message about the drug culture just beneath the surface and the thin veneer of civilisation in all its glorious hypocrisy.

On the road

This film is also greatly improved by the superb acting skills of Depp and Del Toro. Depp is almost unrecognisable as he takes on the part of the balding, drug-addled Thompson. His attention to detail in assuming the bizarre walk and speech of Thompson is also impressive. Del Toro is incredibly convincing as the kind of friend who is likely to land you in some serious trouble. His portrayal of a paranoid Dr.Gonzo who has ingested far too much acid is quite brilliant (particularly that amazing scene when he insists on being killed at the peak of the classic sixties acid song White Rabbit). There are also some good cameos including Cameron Diaz, Christina Ricci and best of all the lonely cop played by Gary Busey.

This film manages to stay true to the book and consequently is packed with bone-achingly funny scenes, from the hitchhiker they pick up on the way to Las Vegas to the freaky circus they visit while tripping. The whole film is hilarious, well acted and hugely enjoyable. It moves along at a fast pace sucking in the viewer and transmits the intense paranoia of the main characters brilliantly. You won´t find any films like this so watch it.


Reviewed by Simon Hill

Return to Top