“Fear and Loathing Las Vegas” (1998)
Running Time: 118 minutes
Directed by: Terry Gilliam
Featuring: Johnny Depp. Benicio Del Toro, Tobey Maguire, Gary Busey, Katherine Helmond, Michael Jeter, Mark Harmon, Craig Bierko
Raoul Duke: Lets get down to brass tacks. How much for the ape?
This month sees the release on Blu-ray of the Terry Gilliam, 1998 film “Fear and the Loathing in Las Vegas”, a wild trip of a movie featuring a great cast and pretty wild non-seneschal plot – but you will be hard pressed to stop watching this wacky film about a lawyer and his Samoan lawyer.
The late Hunter S. Thompson wrote possibly his best known book “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” in 1972 and it took almost 30 years to transform it into a film that lives up to the task, thematically anyway. There had been numerous attempts to get the film off the ground and it is with keeping with the book that a visionary, Terry Gilliam, would co-write and direct this great piece of cinema with only a few weeks notice.
The film’s plot like the novel is a bit of a mess and a haze of drug addled friendship and business. The novel revolves around Raoul Duke (Depp) and Dr, Gonzo (Del Toro) traveling across the Nevada desert high on mescaline and picking up a hitchhiker (Maguire) they are on their way to Las Vegas to cover the Mint 400 motorcycle race for some magazine. From there we meet a few interesting characters and we witness a drug-fuelled trip into insanity. It is a wild ride and we witness things that only a master, like Gilliam, with the assistance of Del Toro and a pre-Captain Jack Depp having the time of his life portraying one of his friends greatest creations.
As mentioned the plot is pretty wacky so the acting talent has to be true to the story and play it straight otherwise it would spin out of control, and this film is under control by the director and cast. What could have been a giant mis-step of an idea is saved by the trust that Thompson had in his friend Depp and his ability to involve people that would respect the original novel and would make an original piece containing the same kind of themes and wildness from the novel.
This film has to be seen to be believed, and looks great on Blu-ray almost 20 years later. Enjoy and look out for the bats!