Hunter S. Thompson's well-thumbed war stories or fish stories from the drug culture have licensed director Terry Gilliam, a late replacement for the original director, Alex Cox, to shovel together a junkpile of repulsive visual effects in illustration of assorted altered states (distorting lenses, off-balance cameras, computer animation, gaudy lights, Expressionistic sets), a bit like one of those stock hallucinatory scenes in films from the psychedelic heyday of the late Sixties, but dragged out for two solid hours. And yet at the same time, it is a hobblingly literary movie, leaning heavily on the protagonist's logorrheic narration to lend any semblance of coherence to the action. Put simply, it was a doomed idea from the word go, and the main fascination of the thing is in marvelling at how it managed to crawl so far along the ground without anyone uttering the word stop. Johnny Depp, Benecio Del Toro, Christina Ricci, Ellen Barkin, Gary Busey. (1998) — Duncan Shepherd
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