Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998) starring Johnny Depp, Benicio Del Toro, Tobey Maguire, Ellen Barkin, Gary Busey directed by Terry Gilliam Movie Review

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)   2/52/52/52/52/5

Benicio Del Toro and Johnny Depp in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)

Self Destructs

Journalist Raoul Duke (Johnny Depp) and his attorney of sorts Dr. Gonzo (Benicio Del Toro) leave Hollywood on a Friday in a red convertible to drive across the desert to Las Vegas with a trunk full of drugs and many more already inside them. Their mission is to cover a motorcycle race but as the duo take more and more drugs their behaviour becomes more dangerous and outrageous as they find themselves looking at trouble when they trash a hotel room. When Duke decides to head back to Hollywood a run in with a cop only leads to him heading back to the bright lights of Vegas and even more drugs.

WTF was that all about? Whilst I am on about "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" I am also on about a discussion I had with a film fan who lambasted me for my negative opinion over this movie. But in the midst of this hilarious tirade which was as incoherent as the movie and from someone who obviously can't accept that someone can have a different opinion to his own I did pick up on two very important things which as I thought about them made sense.

So the first of those was the mention of Hunter S. Thompson's book on which this is based. Now I have never read the book and when I first watched "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" I had not even heard of Hunter S. Thompson and I reckon that the only way this movie can be truly understood is to have read the book or at least encountered Hunter S. Thompson and his whacked out style before. Without that connection what you have in this movie is whacked out pointlessness, a drug fuelled journey into nothingness. Now maybe that was the point, maybe this movie is all about pointlessness but unless you are aware of it all you end up with is nonsense.

But then there is the second thing and that is Johnny Depp and this is Depp from a time when he acted, he took movies with interesting characters and delivered them. And there is no denying that Depp as Raoul Duke delivers a non stop performance, full of quirks and a voice which frequently made me question whether it was really Depp doing the talking. But if you don't get the point of the movie and you are not fussed about Depp then it makes it even harder for this movie to work. In fact it becomes a movie where you suddenly spot an actor in a minor role such as Cameron Diaz showing up as a reporter in an elevator.

So let me say what I saw in "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas", a movie with no story, two good but over the top performances, plenty of directing style but an incoherent mess which as I said probably makes sense only to those who have read the book on which it is based. Although I do wonder how this messy movie must come across when you are off your head as it is probably a real horror show.

What this all boils down to is that despite plenty who praise this movie "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" didn't work for me and was one of the few times when I was genuinely glad when the movie was over.