Natural Born Killers


Viewed – 06 Feb 2009  Blu-ray

This is probably one of the most familiar films I have seen, having watched it several times over the years.  Telling the tale of love struck serial killers Mickey & Mallory Knox (Woody Harrelson & Juliet Lewis) and the media frenzy they inspire during a three week state-to-state killing spree.  Hot on their heels is maverick TV journalist Wayne Gail (a stunningly crazy Robert Downey Jr) and loose-cannon detective Jack Scagnetti (Tom Sizemore).

natural-born-killers

One of the most talked about movies of controversial director Oliver Stone’s career, this energetic satire of violence and the media is still as relevant now as it was back in 1994.  Some may see the film as just unrelenting violence, whilst others see it as a very intelligent attack on the media and its glamorisation of violence for the sake of ratings.  All angles are explored here, and no safe answers are given – Stone is never that easy to point the finger and answer your questions at the same time, he prefers you to make up your own mind.

Shot throughout with a hyperactive editing style, the film mixes stock footage, varying film types such as Super 8 to 35mm, black & white and animation, as well as images that vary from nightmarish to sexual.  Also worth mentioning is that the soundtrack is packed with some incredible choices of music from the likes of Leonard Cohen, Patti Smith and Nine Inch Nails.  This may not be to everyones taste but when music and visuals come together, it works magnificently, lifting a fairly conventional lovers on the lam story to the heights of truly remarkable viewing.  Its an experiment that in my opinion makes this one of the most daring and unique movies of the last twenty years. 

This U.S. Blu-ray version is the theatrically released R-rated cut, and anyone who is familiar with the slightly longer directors cut may think twice before purchasing – but let me say this now … there is very little difference in the two cuts, and as far as scenes, tone and entertainment is concerned, both are identical.  I own both cuts of this film and can safely reassure anyone hesitating with this release that apart from extended violence in several scenes, none of the actual scenes are ruined as far as censorship is concerned.  I’ll even go as far to say that some of the additional violence comes across as excessive and unnecessary, and isn’t really missed by this viewer (apart from maybe the opening).  Now what is important is that the Blu-Ray picture is very nice indeed, even if during some of the best looking shots the details seem a little too smooth even approaching a plasticky-look that I have heard can happen when transferring back catalogue films to the high definition format.  But its still probably the best this film has looked in years – and with the differing style of film used throughout, we’re never going to get something that looks like Casino Royale anyway.  Sound wise we’re treated to a punchy Dolby True HD soundtrack that kicks ass for a film that is already a treat to the ears.  Extras are thin on the ground with the Chaos Rising documentary strangely absent from this release.  But we do get some interesting deleted scenes (my fave is the courtroom) and a commentary from Oliver Stone that is an essential listen for a film with so much to say.

Verdict:  4 /5

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