Natural Born Killers (1994)

natural born killers poster 1994 movie
5.5 Overall Score
Story: 5/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 8/10

Great potential, some innovation

Tries too hard and thinks too much of itself

Movie Info

Movie Name: Natural Born Killers

Studio: Warner Bros.

Genre(s): Drama/Romance

Release Date(s): August 26, 1994

MPAA Rating: R

natural born killers mickey and mallory woody harrelson juliette lewis

The fun doesn’t stop (because it doesn’t really start)

Mickey Knox (Woody Harrelson) and Mallory Wilson (Juliette Lewis) are in love…and they are also on a serial killer rampage crossing the United States.  Leaving troubled pasts, Mickey and Mallory are becoming famous through their infamy partially boosted by the popular true-crime series of Wayne Gale (Robert Downey Jr.).  With dirty detective Jack Scagnetti (Tom Sizemore) on their tale, Mickey and Mallory’s time could be running out…but prison could just be the first act of their great adventure!

Directed by Oliver Stone, Natural Born Killers is a crime satire film.  Following Stone’s Heaven & Earth in 1993, the movie was written by Quentin Tarantino, but rewrites led to lawsuits and a falling out by Tarantino.  The film was released to mix reviews and controversy but quickly gained a cult following.

Natural Born Killers was a birthday movie.  My friends and I went to it for my birthday and the results were…meh.  While I did like the edginess of the movie and some of the visuals, Natural Born Killers tried way too hard.

natural born killers i love mallory show juliette lewis

Memorable…but forgettable at the same time

The basic concept is solid, but it has been done better in other movies of which the film is a satire.  Both Badlands and Bonnie and Clyde show the madness surrounding love-struck killers and how they are media darlings through their crimes.  Natural Born Killers doesn’t really need to satirize it because it is already almost a satire of society that killers are elevated and admired…it misses the point because instead of roasting this, it still feels like glorifying it.

The cast is expansive and the better aspect of this movie.  Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis are rather terrifying as the bloodthirsty couple.  Not only do they dive into the roles but real terror exists when killers mock their victims (like in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre), and Lewis and Harrelson get that right.  The supporting cast is expansive with Robert Downey, Jr., Tom Sizemore, Tommy Lee Jones, Edie McClurg, Rodney Dangerfield, Balthazar Getty, Marshall Bell, Mark Harmon, Adrian Brody, and James Gammon…but the movie feels so out of control that it seems like the actors are reaching often (especially in the case of Tommy Lee Jones who feels like he’s doing his Two-Face character from Batman Forever).

natural born killers robert downey jr bloody

Somehow I feel I’m always going to get stuck wearing red

The movie is an assault on the eyes.  It is like the editor got a hold of new equipment and tried to utilize everything.  I will give the film this…it is experimental.  Pulp Fiction was about to explode in 1994, and even though he distanced himself from the film, you can feel Quentin Tarantino hanging over parts of this movie.  The movie never sits still (it probably wouldn’t be authentic if it did), but it makes it hard to watch and feels like the movie is just trying to be clever (though I did like the I Love Lucy take off).

Natural Born Killers isn’t a good movie.  The film just wants to be loved so badly that any chance at solid commentary is missed.  It comes off as juvenile instead of thoughtful and provocative.  Some people still love the movie, but Stone and most the people involved have done better.  Stone followed Natural Born Killers with Nixon in 1995.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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