Amazon Customer Reply to on 19 February 2013
|Stylish and provocative, Natural Born Killers has been accused of encouraging copycat crimes, though anyone dumb enough to emulate this film was already on the edge, in my opinion. Roaming serial killers Mickey (Woody Harrelson) and Mallory (Juliette Lewis) aren't idealised; director/co-writer Oliver Stone paints them as standard psychos, full of arrogance and self-righteousness, spouting crap pseudo-philosophy like Charles Manson. When Mickey says "that's poetry" to Mallory's inane cliched statements I was amused, not left in awe of them, and amusement's the reaction Stone wants, I think.
Natural Born Killers is at heart a (very) dark comedy; the only reason Mickey and Mallory might seem sympathetic to some is because the other major characers are just as vile, if not even more hypocritical. Celebrity cop Jack Scagnetti's (Tom Sizemore) an evil psychopath who's no different to his prey, prison warden Dwight McClusky's (Tommy Lee Jones) a soulless fascist and TV journalist Wayne Gayle's (Robert Downey Jr.) a two-faced worm. The only likeable people are a couple of Native Americans and an ageing cop whose partner Mickey and Mallory kill.
In a segment designed like a sitcom, where shocking dialogue's scored with a hollow laugh track, Mickey and Mallory murder Mallory's abusive dad (Rodney Dangerfield) and ignorant mum (Edie McClurg). They then, after a blood bond ritual, go on a killing spree which ends when they're captured by Scagnetti. Their adventures are intercut with TV footage of journalists and citizens discussing them; they become cultural icons, treated like media personalities by a world as diseased as they are.
Dozens of styles, from black-and-white to single colour, fanatastical landscapes and even vaguely sci-fi images, like walls which double as TV screens, tell the story in a dizzyingly schizophrenic manner. This can sometimes obscure the plot, but overall it's visually sumptous and fascinating.
The film struggled with censorship, which is strange because even its director's cut isn't any more and in some cases less violent than others of its time. The Silence of the Lambs won four Oscars, and that could be seen as having slightly stronger content (skinning, semen-tossing). Maybe the problem was that Mickey and Mallory are easier to imitate than Buffalo Bill or Hannibal Lecter. Novelist John Grisham weighed in on the film's alleged amorality when a friend of his was killed by two teenagers who'd watched it. Though I can empathise with Grisham's loss, someone who's first novel, A Time to Kill, implicitly endorsed vigilantism, while providing a thriller which depicts child rape, should watch what he says. Ultimately, to claim that Natural Born Killers incites murder is childish and naive. Stone's characters are selfish, narcissistic and desensitised. They're human cockroaches, and if you want to be like them you're a cockroach too.