This is Oliver Stone's masterful, hallucinatory, stylish, surreal, and biting satirical look at mass murderers and the media/folk culture surrounding them.
It was somewhat inspired by the story of Charles Starkweather, whose life also influenced Terrence Malick's debut Badlands. Loosely based on a story by Quentin Tarantino, what we get here is the saga of Mickey and Mallory Knox- a pair of mass murderers who rampage across the American Southwest before getting imprisoned, where they somehow still manage to get their (violent) kicks. All the while the media hones in on them, making them out to be veritable folk heroes, with the main media figure being slimy Aussie television journalist Wayne Gale. On the other side of the story are determined detective Jack Scagnetti who is almost as psychos as the people he's after, and prison warden Dwight McClusky who just relishes the idea of being able to bring Mickey and Mallory to the reaper.
This is a wild, sometimes messy, and always over the top film that is all over the place, but definitely makes an impression. It's kinda hard to pin this film down, but, even if you don't agree with the message of how it's done, you can't deny that this film is worth seeing and discussing.
It's one of those bitter and scathing satires, but there's also a darkly comedic undercurrent going on. I'll admit that this is a disturbing film, but there is a point to it, and it's done with intelligence.
Woody Harrelson and and Juliette Lewis are terrific as Mickey and Mallory, Robert Downey Jr. is a delight as Wayne Gale, Tommy Lee Jones is a gloriously scenery chewing delight as Dwight McClusky, and Tom Sizemore is kidna scary as Scagnetti. This film also features Rodney Dangerfield's only dramatic turn as Mallory's sleazy abusive dad.
The film is shot almost exclusively in Dutch angles using a variety of formats including, color, black and white, animation, super 8, 16, and 35 mm film stocks, and a whole lot more. It's all done to add style, but also substance, and its all discussed by Stone at length on the commentary track. Or you could just read about it online if you'd prefer.
From a technical perspective, this film is a dizzying and ambitious marvel. It's perhaps pretentious, and naysayers will call it overbearing, but I think it's all part of the overall experience. The soundtrack is likewise suitably manic and eclectic, and one of my favorites.
All in all, this is a landmark of 90s cinema and a film you should definitely see.