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Hypnotic, but...
dee.reid20 December 2003
...people really need to take another look at "Natural Born Killers."

The plot: Mickey and Mallory Knox (Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis in roles that are a little too convincing) are a husband/wife pair of serial killers whose vicious crime spree across the country has made them into media superstars.

This movie is a barrage of frightening and surreal images, and is damn near hypnotic to watch.

I can see where the controversy surrounding this film comes from but what I don't understand is where the hate is coming from.

1994's "Natural Born Killers" has to be one of the best movies of the 90s - its sole purpose on this planet is to showcase America's fascination with violence.

But lets try to understand the hate. This movie is here for one reason and I think that we can all agree on that reason. Oliver Stone is a competent and accomplished filmmaker and most of the hate seems to be directed towards him. Stone, who is working from a script that has since been virtually disowned by Quentin Tarantino, pretty much took over and shaped the screenplay to his own vision.

I can understand why fans of Tarantino have a right to be p*ssed off, but I find it extremely difficult to believe that they truly hate the finished product, and the same goes for Tarantino. Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge Tarantino fan myself, and I'm sure he didn't appreciate Stone re-writing his script, but he should be proud of what was done with it.

The message, if you can call it that, is that we are obsessed with violence, and Stone exposes our love for it and spits it back in our faces. To quote Marlon Brando - "The horror, the horror." I say to hell with the hypocritical people who find this movie offensive for they are the ones that this movie is truly aimed towards.

Yes, horrific images are displayed in this movie and terrible things happen to people all throughout, but it's giving us we want, and we hate it. The hate surrounding this film is extremely misguided. My high school paper recently did an article about sex and violence on television and one of the supposed outlets of that violence would be our fascination with the war in Iraq and the Jessica Lynch story.

It said that we are much, much more concerned with the sex (I personally don't think today's teenage girls are THAT impressionable, but who knows?), rather than the violence (which apparently seems to be causing a misguided sh!tstorm of controversy, too, and like the sex, I don't think that people are that impressionable), namely the kind that is seen in music videos and such. Though the article refused to go into specifics (but we know who the people being discussed are and I'm sure they do, too), it brings me back to "Natural Born Killers," which I think people need to take another look at.

In this day and age, violence on television is becoming more and more commonplace, and this movie's relevance seems to make its viewing that much more important. Before we go and continue to bash the hell out of it again, people need to come back and take a look around themselves and watch "Natural Born Killers."
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good messages get lost in all the raucous
Special-K8812 March 2007
From director Oliver Stone comes this flashy but frustratingly uneven and unfocused story of a sadistic, recently married couple who brutally butcher random people across the United States as part of their honeymoon. Their heinous acts and eventual apprehension attract the attention of the media and interested viewers all over the world, but instead of punishing them they would prefer to tell their life story. Well-crafted film holds your interest by making social points that are poignant, provocative, at times even satirical, but alas, they're set in the midst of noisy and excessive action scenes that are relentless and headache-inducing, not to mention extremely violent. Cast is good, especially Harrelson and Lewis who make a good match, but they need much more sturdy direction. **
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Post-script on Hypocrisy
Erick-1210 February 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Natural Born Killers

Released just long enough ago to be forgotten by today's standard of speed amnesia, this film by Oliver Stone is worth seeing again. The violence in it was sickening just a few years ago, but such things have quickly gotten normalized in our culture's ongoing desensitization. Ironically, this very process of media desensitization is precisely the topic of this film's satire. NBK has since even been the subject of copycat crime sprees, or so the culprits claimed. This is troubling, because while the film works hard to analyze the dubious process by which violent killers are turned into romantic heroes in the mass media, NBK seems unable to escape from the same orbit, ending with the killers as living happily ever after, justified by the brutality of their backgrounds, and morally superior to the prison officials and popular journalists who pursue them. But as a postmodernist satire of media saturation-violence, from wrestling to sit-coms to real crime dramatizations to obsessive live news interviews, Stone's film is a thought provoking exercise that is stylistically mesmerizing.

As a postscript, several people accused Stone of inciting copycat crimes and called for him to be sued for damages-- which happened. The lawsuit was dismissed. At the least he was negligent, they argued. Interesting to me that the glorification of violence found everywhere in the thriller genre is taken to be safely neutral, while a powerful satire of glorification is condemned as, well, too violent. The last time I checked, this was always defined as "hypocrisy". The major contradiction in media culture now is that on the one hand, Natural Born Killers is reviled for inciting violence, while on the other hand, it is reviled for being _too obviously_ critical of media violence in a simplistic and unsubtle manner. But can we have it both ways? No.

A 2nd postscript on another form of hypocrisy: Quentin Tarantino, the reigning postmodernist "King of Cool" who plays with pastiche of pop culture genres, wrote the script for Stone's Natural Born Killers, but then criticized the way the film was directed. Ironically, Tarantino then copied several formal film techniques and innovations straight out of NBK for his later "Kill Bill" films. -- with the key exception that Tarantino continues the tradition of glamorizing violence. The Tarantino crowd sees itself as properly aesthetic and cool, far above the ham-fisted Stone! Creepy isn't it?
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It will blow your mind!
CarsonTrent13 March 2006
This is a big, loud, colorful tragicomic and articulate satire on human society, media, politics and the most inner desire and organic need of man to destroy. There has been criticism on the high content of violence, and has been categorized as instigating, but it's actually quite obvious that it's just a satiric view of contemporary "personal success" driven society. All characters are natural born killers, not only the ones doing the actual killing. They are all shown as predators with no morals, who will do anything to achieve their goals. The movie will take you flying, smash your brains and feast your eyes..., it will feed your senses, it will make you love it and hate it. Combining the brilliant early writing skills of Tarantino, Oliver Stone's addiction to violence with the brilliant performance of Woody Harrelson, Juliette Lewis, and all the supporting cast(Rodney Dangerfield, Robert Downey Jr, Tom Sizemore and Tommy Lee Jones). Fantastic soundtrack and graphics. It's THE eye opener. The ultimate 90's movie.

It's a ride!
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A frenzied, manic, bloody orchestration of piercing sounds and astonishing images...
galileo330 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers

Cinema Cut: R

Director's Cut: NC-17

It's an unusual Oliver Stone picture, but when I read he was on drugs during the filming, I needed no further explanation. 'Natural Born Killers' is a risky, mad, all out film-making that we do not get very often; strange, psychotic, artistic pictures.

'Natural Born Killers' is basically the story of how two mass killers were popularised and glorified by the media; there is a great scene where an interviewer questions some teenagers about Mickey and Mallory, and the teenager says 'Murder is wrong.... but If I was a mass murderer I'd be Mickey and Mallory'. Mickey describes this with a situation of 'Frankenstein (the monster) and Dr. Frankenstein' - Dr. Frankenstein is the media who has turned them into these monstrous killers

Most Oliver Stone films examine the flaws of the America, the country that the director loves and admires. I guess 'Natural Born Killers' is about the effect of mass media, technology and how obsessive as a nation, Americans are (and most of the world) over things such as mass killers and bizarre situations.

The killers played by Woody Harrelson (Mickey) and Juliette Lewis (Mallory) are executed astonishingly by two excellent actors who step into the lives of two interestingly brutal killers. Mickey and Mallory believe that some people are worthy of killing, perhaps in the cruel theory of Social Darwinism (survival of the fittest) - Mickey says in his interview in prison, that other species commit murder, we as humans ravage other species and exploit the environment; the script is interesting, but it is questionable how much this film amounts to, in the sense of making us think about society and human behaviour, rather than the intensity of a 2 hour bloodbath that we have seen.

The last hour of the film takes place in a maximum security prison; we see the harsh realities of prison life; the attitudes of the warden etc;overfilling of prisons - maybe Stone is questioning the future, the path that society is leading to.

Two other interesting characters; First, a reporter who runs a show about 'America's Maniacs' and is obsessed with boosting ratings, that he goes to any length to capture the story of Mickey and Mallory. The other is police officer Scagnetti, an insane, perhaps sadistic officer that is in love with Mallory - he also has some weird obsession with mass killers, since his mother was killed during the massacre at Waco, Texas by Charles Whitman.

The cinematography is superb; different colours, shadows, styles create a feeling of disorientation; the green colour most evident of all is green, to resemble the sickness of the killers (in the drugstore when they are looking for rattlesnake antidote).

The camera work is insane; shaky, buzzy, it takes some determination to get use to it and accept it. Highly unorthodox, psychedelic and unusual.

'Natural Born Killers' does not glamourise the existence of insane murderers, it questions it and how we as the public may fuel this attribute...

Although the above review sound quite positive, I did dislike the film. Quentin Tarantino, who originally wrote the script for the film, was not pleased with the altered screenplay and he asked for his name to be removed. I can see why. While mildly interesting at times, Natural Born Killers is a mess of a picture.

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A bizarre acid trip of a film that has good and bad points
FilmOtaku20 October 2003
Oliver Stone seems to have outdone himself on this one. Not only is Natural Born Killers a visual masterpiece, but it is probably one of the most insane and nonsensical social commentary films I have ever seen. Disappointing, since it was penned by one of my favorite film directors, Mr. Quentin `Bad Motherf***er' Tarantino himself. The elements of a good story are there: Boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love and go on a mass murdering spree which is lapped up by the media. While there is definitely a strong social statement, the story is too erratic and scattered to be completely coherent.

Visually however, Natural Born Killers is stunning. It is intensely colorful, unflinchingly violent and innovative in its cinematography. This movie is not for most, but if you decide to try it out, be warned: It is not for the faint of heart, and not for the weak of stomach. But it is an important film for its visual merits, at the very least.

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Blame the media
rbverhoef20 March 2003
Natural Born Killers is a disturbing film. It is a great film as well. Visually it looks great and between all that violence there is a message. Criticizing the influence of media with another form of media called film.

With a lot of cuts, strange camera angles, different colors, the kind of music and a lot of symbolism the sick world of mass murderers Mickey (Woody Harrelson) and Mallory (Juliette Lewis) is presented. And the sick world of how people react to their violence. Director Oliver Stone shows it to us with this satire in a great and really disturbing way.

Harrelson and Lewis hit the right tone for Mickey and Mallory. Tom Sizemore as a cop, Robert Downey Jr. as a journalist (representing the whole media) and especially Tommy Lee Jones as the prison warden are great too. Originally written by Quentin Tarantino, although he was not too happy with the result in the end, this is one of the best satires I have seen. May be it is not for everyone, the images are not always that nice, but the meaning must be for everyone.
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You'll love it or hate it.
MovieAddict20164 May 2005
I remember "Natural Born Killers" making a huge fuss when it was released because the media and conservative families were in an outrage over the level of "glorified violence" in the film. To some extent they were right -- the violence isn't glorified but much of it is unnecessary. The movie could still be a brilliant satire of society/the media without going into such graphic detail -- it's been proved in cinema before that sometimes seeing less is better than gratuity. If Oliver Stone's movie has one outstanding flaw, it's the lack of subtlety.

That said, if you can handle the level of violence and take it tongue-in-cheek, "Natural Born Killers" is so bizarre and funny that it's worth the "trip." (Pun intended.) This is a crazy drug odyssey that would have made Hunter S. Thompson look like Ronald Reagan. The film is twisted, outlandish and out of its mind -- Oliver Stone has gone stone-cold crazy and it's awesome.

Despite my reservations about his lack of subtlety, there is a flip side to the coin: It is a story about excess. Stone's film-making has gone somewhat awry over the years (look at the pointless excess of his films after this), but this fits the bill because it IS a story of excess.

Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis play the titular "Natural Born Killers," Mickey and Mallory, a pair of crazy serial killers who both suffered traumatic childhoods and are now rampaging America on a literal killing spree.

After they are finally apprehended, the media has by now turned them into such icons and glorified personalities that the public and media seems to respect them as titans of filth.

This is where the social satire of the film comes into play, essentially saying: We focus more on the killers than the heroes.

I do think it's a bit hypocritical of Oliver Stone to attempt to point this out, as he is a die-hard liberal at his core and, as the controversy surrounding this film's release proved, the conservatives are too conservative to praise killers. It seems to be the liberal media that glorifies violence (to some extent of course) so I thought Stone would be the last person to ever criticize the media.

So yes it does come across as somewhat of a moot point but nevertheless the film is still enjoyable despite its sometimes sickening amount of over-the-top violence (the opening sequence of the Director's Cut is stomach-turning).

The cast is superb - Rodney Dangerfield, Robert Downey Jr., Tommy Lee Jones, Tom Sizemore, Edie McClurg (the rental car agent from "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" and Rooney's assistant in "Ferris Bueller"!) and Denis Leary and Ashley Judd in deleted scenes included in the Director's Cut.

The story was conceived by Quentin Tarantino (and it's very similar to his "True Romance" script -- a sort of modern-day "Bonnie and Clyde Redux") and re-written by Stone (much to the chagrin of QT). I'm not sure which would have made for a better film but, despite its flaws (which are mainly a none-too-subtle message and too much violence), "Natural Born Killers" is a sort of bizarre, outlandish masterpiece of drugged-out cinema. --
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Cinematic excellence
TBJCSKCNRRQTreviews7 November 2004
I haven't seen too many Oliver Stone pictures; JFK, Scarface(which he wrote, not directed), and this one. I don't know too much about his directorial style, but if any of his other films are like this one, I'll have to watch more of them. The visual style is amazing. The whole film has sort of a psychedelic visual style, and utilizes constant cuts and constant change in color scheme, often changing between powerful green, blue, red and even black/white. Of course, none of this is random. It's there to project symbolism and keep the mood intense and constantly evolving, and, believe me, it works perfectly. With many references to popular media(television, mainly), demons and the desensitizing effect of television. The effect of half of the imagery being seen through a television screen or hallucinated is amazing. The film is experimental and psychological. As Stone puts it in the documentary, it's a film about two people breaking the rules, so it's only fitting that the film-makers are also breaking the rules. It's chaotic and wild, insane and mentally exhausting. It's a film about pain, violence and giving in to cravings and desires. But it in no way romanticizes the aforementioned three points. Quite the opposite. I believe someone once told me that the film makes killing and violence look appealing. I can't even explain how wrong that is. This truly is an amazing film. If you can sit through this, and you (honestly) think of yourself as perceptive and intelligent, you have to see this movie. It's not just recommended or a good idea to watch, it's mandatory for anyone that 'get' it. The plot is great and well-paced. It's never boring. The acting is great. The characters are well-written, credible and so easy to understand and sympathize with that many will hate the film for it. The whole film is amazing on so many levels. I recommend it to any person who believes himself or herself to be hardened and intelligent enough to sit through it, and, more importantly, understand it. I recommend you get the directors cut, as it keeps everything that the other released version cut off. Highly recommendable. 10/10
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Warning: Movie May Be Hazardous to Mental Health.
rmax30482329 January 2010
Warning: Spoilers
What a whirlagig of a movie. It is in your face every second of its running time. It never stops. It may take a lickin but it keeps on blaring. The only soothing thing about it is the musical score, which ranges from "A Night on Bald Mountain" to the heftier portions of "Carmina Burana" when the electric guitars aren't whanging and the electronic drums not palpitating.

The story, insofar as I could make it out among the glitz, roughly follows that of Starkweather and Fugate in the 1950s. Woody Harrelson is Mickey Knox. He runs off with teen-aged Juliette Lewis after he kills her hated father. They indulge themselves in a spree of moral nihilism. Dead bodies abound. There are bath tubs of gore. The screen, and the people on it, are riddled with bullet holes.

The malignant duo are turned into heroes by the media. Fan clubs spring up. Their Hooper rating goes up with each new pile of cadavers. Finally, though, they are cornered by police, led by Detective Scagnetti, famous as the author of a book called "Scagnetti on Scagnetti." The two are isolated for a year in the same penitentiary.

A rabidly ambitious Australian journalist, Robert Downey, Jr., who hosts a TV program called "American Maniacs" is given permission to interview Harrelson. But Woody, no more of a slouch in the department of brains than in gonads, grabs a shotgun during the interview, rescues Lewis, and shoots his way out of prison, while the elated Downey follows them with his TV camera and immortalizes them.

Well! This movie raises a lot of questions. The first question is, "Why was it made?" The director was Oliver Stone and I guess his message is clear enough. The media and violence feed on one another. You know -- "If it bleeds, it leads"? But was it really necessary to put the viewer through the wringer like that? Okay. Stone understandably disapproves of the degradation of vernacular culture, but what did WE ever do to him? I can't speak for you, but he doesn't even KNOW me! Some of the cinematic chicanery is germane to the story or the message it puts so much effort into conveying. The tornado that permits Harrelson to escape from his first prison is straight out of "The Wizard of Oz." During scenes of violence, there are momentary inserts of cartoon monsters. Lewis's tragic home life is presented with a laugh track as a situation comedy. We get it. The visual media intrude into every aspect of our lives and we frame our experiences in accordance with the models they provide.

But other exercises in directorial pyrotechnics lead nowhere except to confusion. There is an ordinary two-shot of law enforcement officers -- Tom Sizemore and Tommy Lee Jones -- walking along a corridor. The simple scene goes from color to black and white to negative and back; from slow motion to step motion; to point-of-view shots of Jones' shoes. Why? The tricks tell us nothing about the story, the characters, or the moral principle.

The title of the movie, "Natural Born Killers", is Harrelson's reply to Downey's query about why Harrelson committed those dozens of murders. Inmates have ready responses to questions like that. (In sociology they're part of a generic process called "accounting.") Harrelson is saying, "I did it because that's the kind of guy I am." He goes on to explain that murder is part of nature. That's not bad as far as it goes, although it's utterly meaningless. Other, real examples that I've heard inmates give for theft or murder include, "It was nothing personal," and (for a killing in prison), "He had no business being there (in the wrong wing)." They're not meant to be taken literally. They're just a way of indicating that logic is dispensable because there is no answer. Incidentally, when Lewis unzips Harrelson's trousers in the visitor's room, that conforms to my observations at the California Men's Colony in San Luis Obispo. (I was there for a job interview as a psychologist.)

I hope that last paragraph wasn't too scrambled. I think I'm still a little dizzy. How did all these tiny butterflies get into my office in the dead of winter? Gee. They're chartreuse.
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The 8th most controversial film of all time, according to Entertainment Weekly
Flagrant-Baronessa29 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Note: This is probably the longest review I have ever written and it mostly deals with the source of controversy surrounding Natural Born Killers, so if you just want a brief summary of why this film is worth watching, skip to the end!

I remember when Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers was released in 1994 and delivered a well-deserved kick up the arse to American audiences. Stone set out to criticize media for its mindless glorification of violence and criminals in the media and did so through a sharp satirical spectacle about two infamous killers-turned-idols, starring the "it" actors of the early 90s.

Unsurprisingly, conservative American families were outraged—disgusted at what was presented to them and saw the film itself as a mindless glorification of violence and criminals as opposed to criticism. Indeed, they were so outraged that, when teen-fans left their Oklahoma home to go out east and shoot fellow Americans, parents blamed Natural Born Killers for having inspired the shootings. Oliver Stone was left with blood on his hands, while more murders were being linked to his masterpiece. Lawsuits were filed; cases were tried and reinstalled, until finally they were dismissed in Louisiana in 1998.

The reason I bring this up again, after so many years, and so many more violent films later, is because Entertainment Weekly has published a list of The 25 Most Controversial Movies of All Time and Natural Born Killers is ranked as #8. Now, I don't want to knock Entertainment Weekly as they report on reality, but when a film like NBK gets a high ranking as 8, they should be called Entertainment, Weakly. My point is, rather, that this is a film that dealt with such an important, realistic issue that it should never have been controversial in the first place. So why was it?

The reason for this high ranking, I assume, is the ending of the film. Instead of opting for your typical, clichéd cop-out in which the "good guys" win and the "bad guys" are punished, Stone lets Mickey and Mallory Knox—the glorified killers—get away with precisely everything and ride off in their car on the highway. This was what lead to a public outcry and what caused an anti-violence film like Natural Born Killers to be mistaken for a pro-violence advertisement.

Firstly, it is my opinion that audiences who need everything to be carefully spelled out for them in a film in order to get the message and morals right are probably devoid of morals in the first place (no offense, Crash (2004)). So because Natural Born Killers did not have a perfect righteous ending with a "good guy" shaking his finger and telling you that this was unacceptable and having the bad guy repent their crime, some people took this as homage to serial killers. This fills me with concern for your average movie-goer.

Secondly, Natural Born Killers shouldn't have inspired this much controversy because, while it often exaggerates to get its message across, it is realistic to the core—and why should realism be labeled controversial? Isn't it just the opposite? Having violence in a film is a realistic portrayal of the world today. Having media glorify violence is even more so, because that is what is happening. By making Mickey and Mallory Knox into infamous symbols ("If I were a mass murderer, I'd be Mickey and Mallory!" one worshipping teen tells the TV camera team), Stone is parodying reality. He is parodying the idea of media turning serial killers, like Jeffrey Dahmer, into celebrities. Dahmer was on the cover of new magazines more than once, for example. The prison interview with Mickey is based upon the Charles Manson interview with reporter Geraldo Rivera. The story told on "American Maniacs" about Mickey killing a cop after asking him for directions is taken almost verbatim from a story made up by J. Edgar Hoover in the 1930s about bank robbers Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker in an attempt to try to silence the couple's growing fan base. In other words, no one can argue that Natural Born Killers is not a realistic portrayal of the media's response to criminals.

Now thirdly, it is my guess that the film struck a little too close to home when it opened and therefore attracted unfair criticism. It pointed to things that were too familiar with audiences. Take the famous sitcom scenes of Mallory's family, featuring hammy acting, clown-like sound effects and canned laughter. All the stylistic elements were present –it was just the content that was overblown; Mallory's father made lewd suggestions and it all culminated in a ruthless killing spree. Yet, somehow, it was still funny because it was so close to the average sitcom. This was Stone's intention. In prison, when Mickey is being interviewed on national TV, the film cuts to a simple black and white image of a typical American home. The family is sitting around watching the interview, glued to the television like mindless zombies—the very same people who hated this film. That's biting irony.

So, controversial? I have watched Natural Born Killers many times and cannot see anything else than a satirical masterpiece. I also do not think that exaggerating images or scenarios is overkill – I think exaggerating morals and 'happy endings' to get a point across is overkill. Natural Born Killers had the perfect balance and was meant to be taken tongue-in-cheek. It doesn't glorify violence; it shows how desensitized the media and the public have become to it. And it does so with flair and fury.

9 out of 10
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Cocaine film-making (spoilers)
Ricky_Roma__9 December 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Unlike the media it lampoons, I don't despise Natural Born Killers because it's violent; I despise it because it's crap. Honestly, are there any other films that are quite so heavy-handed, poorly executed and mind numbingly dull as Stone's turgid 'satire'? I can't think of many – it certainly must rank amongst the worst films of the 90s.

Of all the things I hate about the film, it's Mickey and Mallory themselves that I hate the most, especially as the film loves them. I mean, as much as the film tries to be a clever comment on the violence obsessed media, the film, despite itself, idolises these two losers – murders are filmed in slow-motion and different film stocks, and their love is portrayed as honest and true. Compare this with everyone else – all the other characters are liars, schemers and scumbags. But while any right thinking individual would have nothing but contempt for all of these characters, Stone allows Mickey and Mallory to come out clean at the other end. What a load of rubbish.

One of the most infuriating scenes in the film is when Mickey and Mallory go and visit an Indian. He talks gibberish for a while and then Mickey appears to go to sleep (I can't blame him; the scene strains for meaning in every frame and fails at every turn). Then while Mickey's sleeping he has a nightmare about being abused as a kid. However, when he wakes up, Mickey kills the Indian. Mallory's response is one of horror, saying, 'You killed life. He fed us.' Let it be noted that this is the only murder that Mickey and Mallory feel really bad about. And the only reason they feel bad about it is because the Indian gave them something. The lesson to be learnt here, so Mickey and Mallory appear to be saying, is that it's fine to kill people and not feel bad about it if they do nothing for you.

But that scene touches on another annoying element in the film – childhood abuse. Of course it's a fact that most violent people have been either been abused or have come from a violent upbringing, but the film gives us that and nothing else – oh, they were abused, that's why they're the way they are, it all makes sense. What a load of crap.

And all the segments to do with childhood are completely removed for reality. For example, Mallory's childhood is filmed like a sitcom, with laughs in the background as daddy feels his daughter up. But rather than be a clever comment on the corrupting influence of television, the sequence is so over the top that it feels like petulant whining. Boo hoo, daddy felt my bum. Look what he made me into. Again it's a gross oversimplification. And the burning of Mallory's mother is ridiculous. You were abused, too, and you did nothing to save me. Therefore you deserve to be burnt to bits. What the…?

But despite all this, the film still tries to make us feel sorry for Mickey and Mallory. Just take the scene where the two of them get arrested. Mallory gets the crap beaten out of her and Mickey gets tasered before getting beaten up himself. But rather than weep tears at the excessive Rodney King-style police brutality, I could only think that the two deserved more punishment. They deserved a severe beating followed by a bullet in the brain. But alas the film never gave me this satisfaction, thus making it even more painful for me to watch.

However, the film did at least give me the satisfaction of seeing Mallory get maced. That was fun. And it's rather telling that while the film wants us to love the two mass murderers, it's the sleazy journalist, the evil cop and the wicked prison warden who are the most likable. And they're likable because, unlike Mickey and Mallory, they're not full of pious, sanctimonious BS. They're scum and they know it. But Mickey and Mallory are always justifying their actions, always claiming to be pure when they're anything but. It's infuriating.

Also annoying is Stone's filming style. He's obviously snorted too much blow and watched too many music videos, because the film uses different film stocks, skewed angles, stock footage and front and rear projection to nauseating effect. It's a mess. But of course, Stone probably thinks it's making a wonderful comment on the sensory overload that is present in our multi-channel, television obsessed culture. But no, the film has nothing intelligent to say about television, as anyone with half a brain knows that the masses are glued to the idiot box and that crass, ratings-obsessed journalists do nothing but desensitise the people who watch them. (A ridiculous detail in the film is when Mickey and Mallory visit the Indian. 'Too much TV' is projected onto them. It strains for profundity, but it ends up as being a visual trick more suited to a pretentious R.E.M. or Radiohead video.)

However, to briefly defend the film, I will say that Robert Downey Jr. is quite funny in parts (Tommy Lee Jones and Tom Sizemore also provide a couple of chortles, even though they play two-dimensional grotesques). And there's a segment in 'American Maniacs' that gave me a laugh. But what Stone doesn't realise is that the reality is even more ridiculous. Just watch World's Wildest Police Videos with Sheriff John Bunnell. Wayne Gale is tame in comparison, and nowhere near as disturbing or amusing.
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contradicts its supposed message
courtjester23 July 2001
Warning: Spoilers
*Spoilers* Some people claim that Natural Born Killers is brilliant criticism of the media obsession with violence. But this contention ignores the actual content of the film. Oliver Stone could have shown his serial killers as vicious, inhuman murderers of innocent people and contrasted this with a morbid media fascination. Instead he lends them justification. The movie portrays just about every victim as someone who deserved to be hurt. Engaging in vicious stereotyping, Stone presents the victims as unpleasant caricatures - dumb rednecks, broken-English speaking immigrants, lazy fat people. The one person that the homicidal lovebirds is also a stereotype. Of course they befriend the old, hallucinogen-using American-Indian - because they're trendy, dude? Let's make him an admirable character. Fat, Chinese clerks and "hicks" are uncool, so let's make it seem like the deserve to die. Instead of twisted,hateful that are corrupted by their misdeeds, their rampage makes them happier and more in love. Mickey and Mallory are made sexy and cool and surreal visuals are bound to entice more impressionable people. Justice is mocked. The police and prison officials are portrayed as brutal, ugly and scowling compared to the GQ murderers. Again, this is not in the media reports within the film but in the "reality" in the film. There is no nuance or subtlety in the film - just overblown performances and visuals. The film says nothing new or specific about the obsession with violence. The proof that the film fails in its message lies in actual real world reactions to it. Some impressionable young people who saw this movie cited it as inspiration for murders that they committed. The film's "message" is a failure because it inspires people in the opposite direction with horrendous real-life results. The clever message is nowhere to be seen.
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Like an Ed Wood film on acid
mnpollio20 April 2011
Warning: Spoilers
It is rare to come across a film so offensive and thoroughly reprehensible and devoid of entertainment value like Natural Born Killers that it should almost earn another star for that distinction alone. Alas, I will restrain myself from that scant praise.

Oliver Stone's over-the-top acid trip follows the exploits of a pair of serial killer lovers played by Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis, who become a media sensation during their cross country killing spree. And there you have the plot.

Stone's fans will say that the film has lots to say about our media culture, sensationalism and violence. While it is true that it may have something to say - it is an overstatement of biblical proportions that it has "lots" to say. In fact, one can argue that it barely scratches the surface and rather than being a stinging indictment of any of those issues, ends up glorifying them in its own right. Rather than castigate the media culture for raising the remorseless killers into some sort of folk hero status, Stone's film rather seems to half believe that they are worthy of such status and he often depicts their army of hapless victims as a gallery of grotesques that have it coming.

The violence and imagery of the film is disturbing and not in a good way. There is literally no restraint or sublety...anywhere. Not in the direction, not in the acting and not in the - although I am loathe to use this term for this screenplay - writing. Whereas Bonnie and Clyde may have been romanticized for cinema, NBK's Mick and Mallory are appalling in every way. Certainly no one could possibly sympathize with them. They murder people for kicks and basically get away with it. If anything, the fact that the film has any complimentary critical accolades and supporters merely cements my assertion that if legendary lousy film director Ed Wood had been born later, he would have been deemed a genius. Stone's film is incoherent, rambling, overlong, largely pointless and drenched in violence. His imagery is completely foolish and oftentimes laughable. Characters will be sitting in a hotel room, while babies float by the window. While traveling down the highway, a giant monster stomps by the car. It is like Stone raided the stock footage department and pell mell superimposed it into the background of his wretched film. When depicting Lewis's crummy home life, the film suddenly takes on the guise of a bad TV sitcom. Stone apparently thinks these flourishes are brilliant, but they instead remind one of Woods' work - with Bela Lugosi narrating while stock footage of an unrelated cattle stampede is interspersed.

Acting is universally horrible. Robert Downey Jr. probably comes off best as an Australian news documentarian, but even his work is spotty. Lewis, well on her way to becoming to go-to girl for white trash roles, is dreadful, and Harrelson manages to condescend to equal her every step of the way.

Some people insist the film has a message, but the problem is that Stone makes his point in the first 30 minutes and spends the remainder of the running time sledgehammering it home. The point is not deep and the biggest problem is that Stone the filmmaker seems just as in awe of his murderous amoral central character as the film that supposedly derides their supporters and the society that makes them celebrities. Stone and his film has absolutely zero sympathy for the human wreckage that they leave in their path, which makes both the director and his production more than a tad hypocritical and ultimately pointless.
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OK, you made your point, about a thousand times!
nonconformist29 May 2005
This is not what I expected. I thought it would be violent but instead it was just boring. A seemingly endless barrage of visuals that are just plain silly. The point of romanticizing crime is beat to death and then beat some more. This movie is living proof that outrageous cinematography cannot overcome a sever drought of ideas. The fact that so many people enjoyed this film frightens me. It's like the emperors new clothes. Do they really believe what they say? I like movies that are different but this is just junk. I watched for about and hour and realized I was being used. I didn't think it was going to get any better. Don't waste your time unless you feel the need to fit into the crowd
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Does Oliver Stone know the meaning of the words subtle, excessive and irony
aram8115 June 2019
Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers is a satire on the media's and public's obsession with violence but ironically, it becomes the very thing it's criticizing. The film is overblown, does not have a hint of subtlety, and is full of over the top performances. The photographic tricks detract rather than enhance the film. In the end what we have is a repetitious, loud, in your face and pretentious mess.
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A visual assault on your senses. Bold and brilliant.
The_Eighth_Passenger16 April 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers is quite possibly the most controversial film ever made. No other has sparked such a debate of violence in cinema, and has caused such a divide between lovers and haters. Many people see it as a poignant social commentary, a wickedly funny and dark outlook at a society gone mad with the idea of celebrity and media obsession. Others see it as depraved celebration of sick violence, and a catalyst for what it seeks to undermine. The film certainly contains scenes of horrific, deplorable, violence, but I would argue that the over-the-top 'cartoon' violence is done to let the audience know that the film is not meant to be taken too seriously. Yes, the message is serious, but we need a bit of black comedy with our satire, otherwise it's just like watching a very boring fact based documentary. The violence (and the whole film) is completely over the top because that is what Stone is telling us; "We have gone too far."

Based on a script by Quentin Tarantino, the film follows two young lovers, Mickey and Mallory (Woody Harrelson and Julliette Lewis) as they travel across America killing because it's what they want to do. Hot on their heals is hot-shot cop Jack Scagnetti (Tom Sizemore) who is not quite what you would call an "honest cop". Also along for the ride is sensationalist journalist Wayne Gale (Robert Downey Jr) who hosts (and produces, and directs) the cheesy tabloid show 'American Maniacs'. The first 45 minutes of the film shows us how Mickey and Mallory meet, and shows us their murderous rampage across the country. Like Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange, the first act of the film is the most shocking part. Most people who have turned off either film has done it by the end of the first act. The two films share many other things in common; at the end of the first act our antagonistic protagonists are caught and sent to prison, they both have "graphic violence" and are hated by politicians and mother's groups, and both have much to say about our society and the mindset of it's outcasts. NBK is very much the A Clockwork Orange of the 90's.

Whilst incarcerated Mickey gives an interview to Wayne Gale, and it is here that the film is at its most interesting. He provides a thoughtful, in-depth insight into why he is what he is and does what he does, and the brilliance of the film is that it makes us see his point of view. Of course, this is also where the film makes itself vulnerable to attack because anybody who goes out and murders somebody, and happens to have a copy of the DVD, can be said to have been "warped" by the films 'pro-violence' message. The film is about as pro-violent as American History X is pro-Nazi, but unfortunately far too many people are unable to watch a film with an open mind, or a view to learn something new, and so the message goes over their heads. *SPOILER* If NBK had ended with Mickey and Mallory being killed by a relative of one of their victims then I'm sure everybody would applaud it's "profound message of evil never triumphs". Instead, Mickey and Mallory escape from prison and are last seen walking into the sunset, so therefore Stone must like killers because he lets them live. Right? *END SPOILERS*

How can you talk about NBK and not mention the fabulous look of the film? Shot on everything from grainy black & white 8mm to glossy Super 35mm, and using in excess of 2500 edits, the film is a visual feast. Stone uses 'vertical cutting' to show what a character is reading into a situation, rear projection to show what is influencing their thoughts and decisions and many other great techniques which make NBK the most unique film I have ever seen. Unlike Tony Scott's cinematic turd Domino the style is not done merely for the sake of it, to "look cool", it is done to place us amongst the chaos of the film. Plus, it looks really friggin' cool! I must also mention that all of the performances are top-notch. Harrelson and Lewis fit their roles perfectly and really convey that these two people love each other. Sizemore also gives a solid performance, as does Downey Jr, who is absolutely bloody hilarious! The best of the bunch, however, has got to be Tommy Lee Jones as the prison warden Dwight McClusky. He oozes with creepy redneck sliminess, but is also incredibly funny and charismatic.

NBK is without a doubt one of the finest pieces of art ever produced. For years to come it will be talked about, and I'm sure it won't be long until another murder is blamed on it. NBK sets out to show us that we are far too obsessed with fame and celebrity, and in my opinion it does just that. The media makes celebrities out of criminals whilst people who deserve recognition go unnoticed. How many of the 9/11 victims can you name? How many doctors who have saved hundreds of lives can you name? How many of the Columbine victims can you name? Can you name the killers? Probably. THAT is what NBK is all about, and that is what it seeks to discourage.
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One Of The Wildest, Sickest & Craziest Films You'll Ever See
ccthemovieman-15 November 2006
Yikes, this is a sick movie and one of the wildest I've ever watched.

THE GOOD - This is so stylishly-filmed it's unbelievable. The wild camera techniques - quick flashes, sudden changes from color to black-and-white and back, distorted sound bytes, tilted camera angles, wild colors and symbolic images, distorted sound bytes - are all fascinating to watch. Then there's the crazy story, which ranges from really good to really bad. It's good to see the tabloid media mentality mocked for the trash it is, glorifying evil just to get ratings and the evil killers feeding off that media frenzy. Most of the characters in this film, as bad as they are, are definitely attention-getting. The two leads, "Mickey and Mallory" are two names that now go together, thanks to this film and the ultra-sleazy portrayals of them by Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis.

THE BAD NEWS - Most of the people in this film, if not all, are so vile, so profane, so morally bankrupt, so disgusting you want to take a shower after watching this film. Even the film critics who gravitate toward evil were repulsed by this movie. I actually enjoyed the story up to a point: about the halfway mark. After that, it becomes one gigantic mess, almost too difficult to watch in one sitting. I am mainly referring to all the scenes in the prison including the drawn- out riot/prison break, which goes on way too long. Over 20 usages of the Lord's name in vain - almost all of them in the second half of the movie, didn't help in my rating. Tommy Lee Jones, as the warden, and Robert Downey, as the Aussie scumbag tabloid reporter, absolutely go over-the-top.

OVERALL - In order to stomach this film, you have to look at it as some outrageous satire on violence and the media and take these characters as extreme cartoon-like people and nothing else. Take nothing seriously here. It might help to wear earplugs, too, in profanity and just plan noise bother you.
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Oliver Stone's Glass House
adam b15 January 1999
What I found so bizarre about this movie is that this movie itself is guilty of what it accuses the media of doing. Yes, the media irresponsibly glorifies violence, but this movie ended up being the worst offender of them all. Okay, this movie defines the problem, this movie BECOMES the problem, and offers absolutely no suggestion on how to fix the problem, which makes it appear to me that Tauranteno and Stone are just two wise guys sitting on the sidelines taking potshots. Rule One of Satire: Don't be a hypocrite. Also, did anyone NOT see that end coming? A waste of time.
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Modern Hollywood Junk Disguised As Cinematic "Cool"
Lechuguilla9 November 2007
At least the film's first five minutes, and the final ten, have some measure of quality. Images of the natural world are indeed "cool", or at least they could be, if the camera lingered on the images for more than half a second. And I loved that Leonard Cohen background music, especially "The Future".

That said, "Natural Born Killers" is awful. With a story ostensibly about two young lovebirds that go on a savage murder spree, the film glamorizes violence; the apparent message to kids: killing is "cool" ...

The B&W/color cinematography combo is flashy, gimmicky, and funky. In other words it's cartoonish, to draw in the prepubescent crowd. The film's commentary on the media is superficial and unconvincing. The film is all glitter and glitz, to mask the absence of substantive thematic content. When you look at the writing credits, the explanation for this sorry mess becomes clear.

Given all that "cool" photographic swagger, other film elements are rendered largely irrelevant, especially the casting and acting. Who cares who's cast as Mickey and Mallory? When images come and go at the speed of light, who can analyze the quality of the acting? Is acting even important here? Is the dialogue important? To these last two questions I'd say probably not.

Of the Oliver Stone films that I have seen, "Natural Born Killers" is the only one that I did not like. But then is it really Stone's movie? Judging from the huge negative energy that this film generates, I'd say the creative villain here is obvious.
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Does Oliver Stone have A.D.D.?
mattymatt4ever19 March 2002
I'm not going to complain about the graphic nature of the film. In fact, most of the violence is sustained and left to the imagination. The physical and psychological violence didn't disturb me. It was the style of filmmaking that disturbed me. I'm sure Oliver Stone had some valid points to make in doing this film, but it's all muddled in this hyperkinetic, rambling, incoherent structure. Stone is known for his paranoid style of direction, but it's usually effective in films like "Nixon" and "Any Given Sunday." But in this film, he went to extremes. "Natural Born Killers" is more like an acid trip than a movie. The opening sequence is quite fetching, but from that point on I couldn't engage myself. I had a massive headache after watching this film, and I got absolutely nothing out of it. The numerous cuts simply detached me from the story, for good reasons. This is a well-intentioned but extremely annoying and highly pretentious satire that definitely didn't deserve massive critical acclaim. Michael Bay's films have half as much cuts as this film, but he gets criticized for his style of direction. Well, at least his films are usually fun to watch, despite being highly superficial. The only part I enjoyed was the hilarious mock sitcom sequence in which Rodney Dangerfield plays the arrogant father. But if you have A.D.D. or you're on an enormous acid trip...this film will be an absolute treat.

My score: 2 (out of 10)
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BlackBalloon13 July 2001
When I first saw this movie upon its theatrical release, I was seventeen, mad at the world. I had a blast. I knew other kids my age liked it for the same reason I did, so I wasn't surprised when I heard two idiots were blaming the film for their crimes. It's been a while since I last watched the film, but I can tell you in retrospect I don't think I would like it as much as I used to. I don't even care to see the director's cut. The image of the severed head on the back of the box turned my stomach. This is the sort of thing I welcome from a stupid horror movie, not from mainstream Hollywood and a movie that, yes, hypocritically purports to convey some sort of "message". If someone has to sit through this dreck to get it in their head (assuming they didn't know it already through osmosis) that, yes, the media is corrupt and glorifies violence, then they are probably better off living in ignorance. This is like making a film with the "message" that eating results in excrement. We all know we live in world that is often corrupt and ugly. This film would not be HALF as hard to take if it were simply a violent, fun, exploitation-type movie, as it would seem Tarantino originally intended. I know I would think of it more favorably now. This movie was just complete overkill in so many areas, that it is genuinely stupid.
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Simply Unwatchable
kenjha27 December 2012
Young lovers go on a killing spree, glorified by the media. The opening scene is so over-the-top that one expects the movie proper to start thereafter with some sense of coherence and narrative flow but it never comes. In fact, it soon goes downhill with a cheesy sitcom sketch that is meant to be clever but falls flat. This is perhaps the worst movie ever made by an Oscar-winning director, as Stone is at his self-indulgent worst, utilizing such cheesy tricks as tilted camera angles, random use of black and white cinematography, movies playing in the windows of houses, and animation. Combine all that with abhorrent violence and a pointless script and you have a film that is unwatchable.
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keep the camera still moron.
commieluke28 December 2005
*CLANG-CLANG-CLANG* That's the sound of the movies message being relentless beaten into you. Other sounds that you might here during the film is the swallowing of headache tablets and the snoring of someone who's taken the easy way out leaving you to slog through the rest all alone.

This film can be summed up in one word. You might pick garbage, tedious, or just plain stupid. But in he end i think we have a winner in obnoxious. Two words? Really obnoxious. I'm sure some people can come up with explanations for why the film switches between black-and-white and colour at random intervals, I'm sure the random use of slow-mo didn't strike them as odd, nor the lens switching. Some people can see the future in chicken guts, I guess if you look hard enough you'll always find what you're looking for. And did anyone else think "Battlefield Earth" with all the tilting camera shots? What is it with bad films and the inability to keep the camera level?

I have no doubt the story was just as inane as the direction. Alas i can't remember a damn thing about it, maybe it didn't even exist. That'd explain all those directorial flourishes, who gets annoyed at the lack of plot when they've got a pounding headache? Bravo Mr. Stone! Bravo!

When the film settles down for the second half (or maybe I just started blocking out all the tricks in a desperate bid to get to the end of the film without snapping in frustration) it gets slightly better, or more accurately less bad. It's still a terrible film but I was so relieved to be able to tell what was going on my opinion shot up from "this film really really sucks" to "this film really sucks". Adios Natural Born Killers, I hope never to watch you again.
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Stone hits rock bottom
mrbeankc5 July 2000
This is the kind of film that everyone involved with should be embarrassed over. Poor directing, over the top acting and a plot that rambles on with no point other than to show violence. I thought when I first saw it that it would be perhaps a satire of the media and how it shows violence but it's not. I'm not sure what makes the film worse. Oliver stone does his worst directing ever. From scenes where Woody Harrelson's face morphs for no reason or Robert Downey Jr's dreadful performance as Wayne Gale who is a reporter who seems totally bonkers, this movie is simply a mess.
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