The quintessential MTV movie, complete with a hard-rocking soundtrack, has finally arrived. With short cuts and skewed camera angles, the highly-stylized "Natural Born Killers" is the perfect movie for people who possess a short attention span. In it people are killed right and left without any apparent provocation, purely for your entertainment. The film's anti- heroes, a vicious couple who otherwise fit the Bonnie & Clyde mold, don't have any feelings like pity or remorse. They just kill for fun.
Mickey (Woody Harrelson) and Mallory (Juliette Lewis) Knox, two natural born killers, are modern-day folk heroes. Whenever they arrive on the scene, death is soon to follow. But they always leave one person alive to tell the tale and spread their infamy. In flashbacks we get to see what made them the way they are. Mallory was the victim of an abusive father (Rodney Dangerfield) and a mother (Edie McClurg) who stood by and watched it happen. Mickey's background is a little sketchier, although it also contains signs of a dysfunctional family.
The deadly duo finally gets nabbed by a persistent law- enforcement officer named Jack Scagnetti (Tom Sizemore), who himself has killed gratuitously just to see what it feels like. The story then flashes forward to just before the time Mickey will be executed for his crimes. He is allowed to give a live interview to tabloid TV-show host Wayne Gale (Robert Downey jr.) while Warden McClusky (Tommy Lee Jones) arranges for Mallory to meet her demise at the hands of Scagnetti. During the interview, which is being eagerly watched by Mickey's fellow inmates, a riot breaks out in the prison. This creates enough confusion for Mickey and Mallory to make their escape and cause more death and destruction.
A typical scene in "Natural Born Killers" is comprised of the following: first a fluid color shot of the action taken at more or less ground level but tilted at an angle, followed by a shorter black-and-white shot taken by a tilted camera at a higher angle, which is then followed by a grainy color shot from yet another angle and, occasionally, a few seconds of animation. This is then repeated with variations for the length of the scene, along with scads of superimposed images.
Stylistically, this might have been a good movie if it were only 20-30 minutes long. At that length, it could have been appreciated as a highly original piece of avant garde filmmaking. But because the visual chaos has been sustained for the length of a feature, "Natural Born Killers" can generate a splitting headache of the kind that is usually reserved for those who watch strobe lights for hours on end.
Supposedly a satirical look at the way violence is glorified in the media, the film is itself a glorification of violence. Personally, I fail to see how it escaped receiving an NC-17 rating and my recommendation would be to treat it as if it had. "Natural Born Killers" is offensive in its callousness.