3 July 2002 | bob the moo
Was it worth all the controversy?
Mickey and Mallory Knox are lovers. She is beaten and abused by her father until Mickey rescues her by killing them. Bound together by blood they go on a killing spree across Middle America. As they go they become media celebrities as the television crews glamorise what they do. However it isn't long before they are caught and sent to prison. However a live television interview with Mickey offers him the chance to turn events to his advantage.
Stone's film was cursed with controversy in the UK. Mostly because it was seen as glamorising or trivialising serial killers but also because it had been originally a script by Tarantino, who had already had one film banned in the UK at this point. The media frenzy was uncalled for because really the film takes swipes at the media for the way they build killers up into minor stars, with column inches and TV specials etc. However the film benefited from the hype by covering over the fact that it isn't really a very good film!
The first half is mainly them killing people, and can get pretty unpleasant and relentless to watch. The second half allows for more comment on the media etc and is better for it despite still having violence glamorised to some extent. The film is Stone trying to be hip and almost getting it. He uses comic book images and inter-cut shots of violence etc to show what's in the characters heads during the film. It is quite well done but doesn't feel like Stone.
Sadly his content lets him down. Only bits of the second half feel like he's making some kind of point and this is almost nullified by the fact that the violence of the first half is so well put together and full of clever ideas (like basing them on old TV shows) that it could be accused on being hypocritical by attacking the media for glamorising killers. However he does get good performances.
Woody Harrelson (Woody in Cheers! What have they done to you?) is really good if a little too convincing. Lewis is OK but I always find her whiney voice to be irritating. Solid roles are put in by the support cast and they are used to illustrate the points made in the second half. Robert Downey Jnr is great, Tom Sizemore is good and Tommy Lee Jones just plays a cartoon character.
As a pop-culture movie it's worth watching as the video editing etc is really effective (even if it does feel like an old man trying to fit in), however as social comment it is bogus and has been done better elsewhere. The second half is worth watching but sadly this means having to sit through the whole first hour.
Overall this only made money in the UK because the media frenzy around it where all the `we'll all be killed in our beds' tabloids made a big deal out of it. Without that this would have been a failed message movie that falls into the very trap that it criticises others for glamorising violence and murderers. Worth watching for the visual effects and nothing more.