Natural Born Killers is a more f***ed up version of Bonnie and Clyde. Although Quentin Tarantino wrote the story, director Oliver Stone made it his own. Natural Born Killers is one of the most controversial films of all time. Despite Tarantino disowning the project, the movie was a success. Leading to a disturbing rise in copycat crimes. Which is mostly why I’ve avoiding seeing Natural Born Killers for as long as I did. The extreme violence is disturbing, but it’s so frequent and exaggerated that I sort of became desensitized to it. Stone specifically wanted a movie that satirized the media’s glorification of crime in the 90’s. Natural Born Killers accomplishes that goal, but the visual style is just too much.
There are frequent cuts to black & white, red & green color palettes, animation, dutch angles, and bizarre imagery spliced with advertisements. It’s possible Stone wanted the audience to go as crazy as the criminal leads. Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis go against type for the first time as natural born killers Mickey & Mallory Knox. Both became iconic for Mickey’s sunglasses and Mallory’s mullet. They’re a pair of romantic psychopaths who go on a killing spree and gain a devoted following along the way. I wouldn’t come close to calling them sympathetic, but they are both shown to come from abusive homes that led to their reckless disregard for human life.
Rodney Dangerfield also goes against type as Mallory’s abusive father in a segment parodying I Love Lucy. Robert Downey Jr. purposefully puts on an Australian accent as exaggerated true crime reporter Wayne Gale. Previous Stone collaborator Tommy Lee Jones doesn’t show up until the third act as an unhinged prison warden. The only connection to True Romance is Tom Sizemore playing a more depraved cop. Apart from maybe an Indian spirit guide, no one is likable in Natural Born Killers since we almost never get to know the victims. Natural Born Killers may have something important to say, but I’m too disturbed to listen.