Natural Born Killers (1994) movie review

I was highly impressed by this film. From watching the trailer, I was given the sense that the plot to the film wouldn’t be worth it, which was backed up by a review from a friend saying that it was all aimless violence. However, after now seeing the film myself, I can say that she was wrong.

While I still agree with my initial thoughts to the trailer, I will not say that it was not a great film. I felt that the plot alone wouldn’t have made the film interesting enough to allow the film to become as popular as it has; however, the editing and use of colour made the plot more bearable and certain scenes stand out more than you were expecting.

For the first hour of the film, I will admit, I was confused as to how this feature could have become as popular as it had, seeming like it was going to continue on the plot as the main focus. So, if you haven’t seen the film before, I urge you to stick with it and keep your mind open – anything you were expecting is the complete opposite of what you’re about to experience. I am so glad I continued watching because it really picks up for the second half. (Side note: The first half is important as it sets the mood of who Mickey and Mallory Knox are as people; it’s not just a random viewing of part of their life.)

From the script, I felt the best scene was the interview between Wayne Gale (Robert Downey Jr.) and Mickey Knox (Woody Harrelson), without a doubt. It was clear that this was the main scene which gives the feature its reputation of controversy. The way Knox explains his views towards his own actions really made me think about my own views to the world, and partially question my own sanity. I can imagine after viewing a screening of this creation in a cinema, many would walk out feeling a little unsettled towards agreeing with a (albeit, fictional) serial murderer.

While looking at the feature from a directors’ eye, I felt the best scene was definitely the ending, as we witness Mickey and Mallory’s last interview before leaving their murderous days behind them. I found this scene so fantastic due to the interesting (and, when shot from Gale’s camera, realistic) camera shots, visually beautiful and, to some, ‘quirky’ colours, and the jump-cut images which cut there way into your subconscious, where they will nest for all eternity, so long as your brain is active.

I’ve been waiting to find a feature film with this “frenzied and psychedelic” (as described on the film’s Wikipedia) editing style for a while, as it’s the style I was planning to use if ever I get the chance to create my own feature length film.

I absolutely loved the use of blue and red lighting used within the interview in the prison and when Mallory was talking to Jack Scagnetti, as it’s not often you’ll find this effect used within cinema. Often within theatre performances, to add atmosphere to the play the lighting will be directed to change to a certain colour. In cinema, this often isn’t needed as the camera angles usually bring the audience in to feel as though they are part of what they are viewing, so the effect of coloured lighting is not needed. However, I felt it really added to the effect of the character’s mood, rather than the atmosphere.

The performances given from the main characters (the Knoxs’ and Gale) were fantastic, especially from Downey Jr. – no matter who he plays, he becomes that character until his entire performance as them is over. I really felt from all of them that they were who they were playing, which, until now, I hadn’t had the chance with for Harrelson as I hadn’t seen him in a role where he had the chance to show his potential as an actor.

Overall, a slow start to the movie, but fantastic by the end. I recommend it to all, especially anyone budding to work in the film industry, unless you don’t like violence. It’s a must-see.

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