Wildly unconventional, corrosively satirical, savagely violent and vulgar, NATURAL BORN KILLERS is more self-consciously radical (in form, if not necessarily in content) than any other major studio release in recent memory. If it isn't the masterpiece it aspires to be--director Oliver
Stone lacks, and may never attain, the kind of intellectual acuity that most of us still expect from artists--it's unquestionably a watershed.
Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis play Mickey and Mallory Knox, a post-utopian Bonnie and Clyde on a cross-country killing spree. If Bonnie and Clyde liked to think of themselves as Depression-era Robin Hoods, Mickey and Mallory have no such illusions---as a TV psychiatrist (Steven Wright)
observes: "They know the difference between right and wrong. They just don't give a damn." On their way to racking up 52 victims, the couple become international celebrities, thanks mostly to the attentions of a lurid TV tabloid show hosted by the unapologetically venal Wayne Gale (Robert Downey,
Jr.). After a series of increasingly hallucinatory adventures on the road, Mickey and Mallory are apprehended and imprisoned. Nothing, however, can stand in the way of true love (or Nielsen ratings): while deranged Warden McClusky (Tommy Lee Jones) schemes to have the Knoxes murdered, Mickey plots
escape, using a live interview with Wayne Gale as a pretext for inciting an apocalyptic prison riot.
This astonishingly violent, technically brilliant satire of televisual culture baffled critics at the time of its release--as did A CLOCKWORK ORANGE 23 years earlier--and its indecorous brand of humor will strike many as insolent, even repellent. Stone, in a smart recovery from the disastrous
HEAVEN AND EARTH, has wisely let his obsession with "significance" yield to his instinctive feel for pulp. Paradoxically, the result may be his most significant film. Accessing some of the farthest reaches of previously marginalized culture--direct-to-video splatter, cyberpunk, S&M, anime, serial
killer fandom--NBK decisively wrenches mainstream cinema into the anarchic realm of post-modern pop.
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1994
- Rating: R
- Review: Wildly unconventional, corrosively satirical, savagely violent and vulgar, NATURAL BORN KILLERS is more self-consciously radical (in form, if not necessarily in content) than any other major studio release in recent memory. If it isn't the masterpiece it a… (more)