Wednesday, May 15, 2019
NATURAL BORN KILLERS (1994)
[This review is for the 122-minute Director's Cut, even though my old ass did see the Theatrical Version during it's initial release in 1994.]
When NATURAL BORN KILLERS came out way back in ye olde 1994, it caused quite a bit of controversy (real or manufactured, I have no clue) due to the subject matter and violence. Revisiting it now, the entire thing seems dated as fuck and honestly, kind of naive. (Remember, this was all pre-internet.) That said, it's still an interesting time capsule back to early 1990's American culture.
The story is about Mickey and Mallory Knox. Two self-righteous scumbags who murder almost as much as they talk. When our love story begins, Mickey and Mallory are dropping into a desert diner "for a bit of the old ultra-violence" as Alex from A CLOCKWORK ORANGE would say. After the highly entertaining massacre, they leave one witness alive to pass on the legend of Mickey and Mallory. Awww, how sweet! Next, we're given some backstory of M + M, then brought up to speed on their current situation: driving around the desert while murdering the fuck out of everybody.
I like NATURAL BORN KILLERS. Story wise, it's not really unique since there were numerous films like it released around the same time (TRUE ROMANCE, LOVE AND A .45, KALIFORNIA, THE DOOM GENERATION and so on), but I really admire the frantic way the story is presented in NBK with wonky camera angles, animation, rear projection, insane amount of cuts (rumored to be close to 3,000!!!), black and white moments, distorted faces, clips from random movies, etc. There's even a real Coca-Cola commercial.
Fast pace, surprisingly small amount of nudity, excellent acting (I especially enjoyed Robert Downey Jr. and Tommy Lee Jones), surrealism, insane colours, the "World Famous Buzzard Burger with Cheese", numerous movie references (everything from SCARFACE to RIO BRAVO), a young Jared Harris wearing an Albert Fish t-shirt, some guy (the prisoner trying to steal the TV camera) who looks a lot like Trent Reznor...and speaking of Trent Reznor: that soundtrack was really good. Leonard Cohen, L7, Patti Smith, Nine Inch Nails, Bob Dylan just to name a few. Good stuff. Recommended...both the film and the soundtrack.
If you look back through the box office reports you'll see that in week 34 of 1994, NATURAL BORN KILLERS knocked FORREST GUMP out of it's #1 spot. I'm sure somebody who's intelligent could write a long, thought provoking essay about good vs. evil in American popular culture based off of that fact alone, but that's not me. I just thought it was interesting.