Movie Review: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)

Starring: Johnny Depp, Benicio Del Toro and Tobey Maguire

Directed by: Terry Gilliam

A journalist and his crazed lawyer travel to Las Vegas to cover a motorcycle race in the desert. While in Vegas they go on a psychedelic trip aided by a concoction of drugs and booze in search for the “American Dream”.

Besides from starring Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro I knew absolutely nothing about this movie. It’s rated fairly highly amongst the users of IMDb and with Depp and Del Toro at the helm I was certain that Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas would pan out to be one of the better movies of this month.

Unfortunately, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas seemed to have everything except a story. The acting from both Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro was great as they played drug fuelled revellers who were constantly on some kind of drug trip that messed with their mind. They were wonderful to watch as the drugs got heavier, the trips got harder and both actors felt very believable and genuine as they were going through their psychedelic trips. Playing drunk and high is something that is very difficult to do well but the brilliance of both Depp and Del Toro shon through as they were able to master these traits. In so many movies I’ve watched actors and actresses struggle to come across as drunk or high as it tends to be quite awkward to watch but in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas both actors nailed it. The chemistry they shared on screen was great as they played off each other very well as a lot of their interactions were aggressive and full of confrontation.

The visuals in the movie were fantastic and so imaginative while Depp and Del Toro were tripping on acid. The creativity on display was a combination of fun and freaky as the acid trip intensified. The music chosen throughout this film was great and really fitting as music featured from the likes of Tom Jones, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones amongst others. At times the movie had some good funny moments but a large portion of the comedy did fail to hit the mark which was a bit of a shame.

For all it’s positives, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas severely lacked a cohesive story. As the movie played out I began wondering what the actual purpose of the film was as their was no real beginning, middle or ending as the movie was merely one big ride full of drink and drugs which had no actual end goal. The movie tried to offer some kind of back story to the central protagonists played by lead actors Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro but their characters served no real purpose as the story was virtually non-existent which was such a shame as I felt almost short changed from the experience. The performances Depp and Del Toro managed to pull off are all the more impressive considering they were given very little to work with in terms of story depth but their performances also seemed a little wasted as this film felt somewhat incomplete.

Overall, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas had a lot of positives which included the acting, visuals and the soundtrack but I couldn’t fully immerse or enjoy myself as the story just wasn’t even remotely good enough.


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