Natural Born Killers: Violence Doesn’t Always Make the Point


Though I loved the film Platoon, I am quickly starting to learn that I am not the biggest fan of Oliver Stone. In his most notorious and experimental of films Natural Born Killers, a clinically insane couple travels across the country on a murder spree. A scathing commentary on the relationship between the media and violence, Stone’s point gets muddled by the gratuitous violence and experimental film techniques that rule this film.

This film has two parts to it, the first following Mickey Knox (Woody Harrelson) and Mallory Knox (Juliette Lewis) on a cross country murder spree. Mickey and Mallory get married shortly after Mickey saves Mallory from her physically and sexually abusive father, played by Rodney Dangerfield. It is eventually realized that Mickey’s past is as twisted as Mallory’s which starts to explain why the couple is so incredibly disturbed. The film transitions into its second part when the couple is incarcerated, caught by the questionable Detective Jack Scagnetti (Tom Sizemore). After spending some time in jail, Mickey Knox agrees to do an interview with the sleazy reporter that had been following their story since their killing spree, Wayne Gale (Robert Downey Jr.). The film comes to an end as the Knox’s make their final move on broadcast television.

Mickey and Mallory get media coverage during their killing spree and before long the entire country knows the Knox name. The film is filled with quick cuts to people across the country commenting on the murderous couple and often times glorifying them. The media’s coverage of the couple helps to fuel their violence while at the same time enticing viewers to demand they get move coverage. While I understand the point Stone was trying to make, that the media’s relationship with violence acts only serves to fuel and glorify violence, he lets the violence in the film distract from it. Stone fills his film with experimental film techniques; some scenes are made to mimic a laugh track sitcom while others use black and white or even cartoons. To top it all off the scenes all cover horrible events and include horrific and unspeakable violence. These techniques only serve to make the entire situation seem unrealistic. It is difficult to separate the real point Stone was trying to make from the unrealistic events of the film and the filming techniques that most people associate with sitcoms and cartoons. The film was too experimental and unrealistic to drive Stone’s very real point home.

This is not to say that experimental films cannot make a point or make a difference. Violence in the news and the media is surrounded by sitcoms and dramas, programs that we know are fake. By adding aspects of these fake programs that already cloud our idea of reality, Stone associates his real point with the fake items that already cloud it. Stone should be commended for what he tried to do and clearly many famous actors, from Woody Harrleson to Tommy Lee Jones, believed in him. Unfortunately, in my opinion the film did not make the point it promised. This is a 4 out of 10 film; I can appreciate what it tried to do but cannot say it was successful.


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