In 1971, journalist Raoul Duke (Johnny Depp) and his companion Dr Gonzo (Benicio Del Toro) arrive in Las Vegas, ostensibly so Raoul can cover the Mint 400 off-track race. The duo embark on a massive drugs binge, checking into the Mint hotel before visiting the Bazzoka Circus casino while high on ether. The hedonistic weekend continues the following day, with Raoul and Gonzo meeting various way-out characters along the way. Watch out for cameos by Cameron Diaz, Christina Ricci and Gary Busey in Terry Gilliam's visually stunning adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson's cult novel.
The original co-writer and director of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
was Alex Cox, whose earlier film Sid and Nancy
suggests that Cox could have been a perfect match in filming Hunter S Thompson's psychotropic masterpiece of "gonzo" journalism. Unfortunately Cox departed due to the usual "creative differences", and this ill-fated adaptation was thrust upon Terry Gilliam, whose formidable gifts as a visionary film-maker were squandered on Thompson's ether-fogged narrative. The result is a one-joke movie without the joke--an endless series of repetitive scenes involving rampant substance abuse and the hallucinogenic fallout of a road trip that's run crazily out of control. Johnny Depp plays Thompson's alter ego, "gonzo" journalist Raoul Duke, and Benicio Del Toro is his sidekick and so-called lawyer Dr Gonzo. During the course of a trip to Las Vegas to cover a motorcycle race, they ingest a veritable chemistry set of drugs, and Gilliam does his best to show us the hallucinatory state of their zonked-out minds. This allows for some dazzling imagery and the rampant humour of stumbling buffoons, and the mumbling performances of Depp and Del Toro wholeheartedly embrace the tripped-out, paranoid lunacy of Thompson's celebrated book. But over two hours of this insanity tends to grate on the nerves--like being the only sober guest at a party full of drunken idiots. So while Gilliam's film may achieve some modest cult status over the years, it's only because Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
is best enjoyed by those who are just as stoned as the characters in the movie. --Jeff Shannon, Amazon.com