Natural Born Killers is a strange film, a noisy, extremely violent journey with two psychopathic killers as company. As if that weren't enough there is a supporting cast of equally twisted caricatures. Oliver Stone directs, Quentin Tarantino wrote the screenplay and both seem be aiming for maximum controversy. The film attempts to reveal the dark underbelly of the American psyche, the potential for horrible gun-related violence which we hear so much about.
The action follows Mickey (Woody Harrelson) and Mallory (Juliette Lewis) as they embark on a mass-murder spree across America. The story is littered with stereotypes and caricatures; each of the main characters has a legitimate reason for their violent behaviour if considered in a sympathetic light yet this only adds up to more misery and death. Mallory is sexually abused by her father, Mickey is beaten by his, both are brutalised and feed each others delusions. The supporting cast aren't much better, Scagnetti the FBI agent chasing them witnessed his mother´s murder and seems to be sexually depraved, Tommy Lee Jones as the prison governor is grotesque and maybe worst of all Robert Downey Jr's sickening TV presenter goes completely mad.
The direction is different, some nice touches like the film of Scagnetti snarling reflected onto the window in the background as the scene plays out in the room or the projection of the word "demon" onto Mickey's chest as he stands in the Indian's hut. However these effects continue throughout and I ended up with the impression of a series of stage sets which made the whole thing feel even more unreal.
The film plays like a long violent music video; tracks and scenes blend into each other and help to keep the frenetic pace up. The music is very good with some suitably stomping tracks and a few more chilled efforts thrown in together to fit the action. The movie builds to an incredible prison riot scene which is quite spectacular and genuinely chilling in places.
The acting is very good, Juliette Lewis portrays her character perfectly, needy and dangerously determined by turns. Woody Harrelson performs well too, dealing with a subject very close to home, his father has been convicted of murder twice and so this must have been strange for him. Despite memories of the loveable moron from Cheers he is convincing as a psychopath but he never loses the charisma and so even although he is a sick murderer he manages to be quite likeable which is slightly worrying. Tommy Lee Jones and Robert Downey Jr. are both funny here hamming it up which is accentuated by the strange close up camera angles and warped time.
This is an entertaining film if you are in the right mood. It does quite obviously want to shock and provoke and it does highlight the dangerous actions of the media in terrorising the public and making heroes of killers, it also highlights the stupidity of certain sections of American society but in the end it leaves a muddy and unsatisfying feeling.