When it opened 20 years ago, Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers caused a stir, a ruckus, and an indignant, instant backlash. The film — which he described in interviews at the time as the change-of-pace lark he needed to re-charge his batteries after the heavy historical lifting of JFK — was the director’s hallucinatory, chaotic, yet closely argued critique of media cynicism. The road-trip/prison-flick tale of thrill-kill lovers Mickey (Woody Harrelson) and Mallory (Juliette Lewis), NBK found Stone hyperventilating a script by Quentin Tarantino and making what he would later assert in his DVD commentary was a movie suggesting that “our media and our corporations are the modern enemy.” But Tarantino disowned the film, tried to have his name removed, and settled for a “story by” credit (the script is credited to Stone, David Veloz, and Richard Rutowski). NBK was panned by many prominent movie critics, and condemned as being at least partially responsible for inspiring real-life violence, including the 1999 Columbine High School massacre.
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