Natural Born Killers

Reviewed By Chris Parry
Posted 08/31/98 00:36:09

"Much ado about nothing. A very average action thriller."
3 stars (Average)

One of the most controversial films of the last ten years turned out to be pretty much a non-event.

Quentin Tarantino did everything possible to stop this film from being made, from renegging on options deals, to hooking in producers that he figured would be incapable of getting it off the ground. Finally he resorted to derogatory public comments about the project and telling anyone who would listen that he had been defrauded by the producers.

When it was to open in the UK, the censors band it for a year while they tried to decide if they could safely let the general public view it.

In the US a series of protests by the religious right and moral minority gained momentum when the occasional nutcake went on a killing spree and used Natural Born Killers as a convenient excuse as to why they did it.

All this hullabaloo should indicate the film is something pretty special - at least violent in the extreme.

Well it's not. It's fairly tame stuff. Sure, a lot of people are blown away and plenty of shots are fired and Rodney Dangerfield takes us on a course of Incest 101, but it's nothing you couldn't see in True Lies or True Romance or Titanic for that matter. On screen deaths are fairly common and anyone who thinks this film will tease their psychotic urges is sadly mistaken.

Now, that's not to say the film isn't interesting. Sure, it's interesting enough.

Well shot? Well, at times the cinematography is brilliant. At other times it's brain-hurtingly bad, like something you'd see on a 1980's MTV promo. The script has a lot of Tarantino running through it, albeit early Tarantino, so the dialogue works well enough.

The performances are mixed. Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis, the leads, are just fine as serial-killers Mickey and Mallory, but Robert Downey Jr. throws on the worst Australian accent you're likely to hear in his role as the tabloid journalist using Mickey and Mallory to get the big ratings.

Tommy Lee Jones, although sporting the best hairstyle any crew stylist will have ever dared apply to him, is decidedly ordinary. We've seen him in this role a billion times before, whether it's in fighting a volcano, hunting down a fugitive (or two), or as the voice of a rambo-esque action figure. It seems Tommy boy is very one ranged and I'm the only one who's worked it out.

Dangerfield, as big daddy fondle-butt, is fairly hardcore. He really gives the viewer every chance to despise him, which is exactly what was required. It's the kind of dramatic role that Dangerfield hasn't tried before and probably won't try again. More's the shame, because old one-liners are a lot less entertaining than what he's capable of.

Overall, this film won't beat seven shades of shit out of you. You'll go "ew" a few times and maybe get a little grossed out, but you won't get scared unless you're a complete shut-in and you won't have to think really hard as all the social commentary is served to you on a plate.

If everyone would have just shut up about it when this film was released, it would have died a quick death.

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