Directed by Terry Gilliam
Starring Jonny Depp, Benicio Del Toro, Tobey Maguire
As the catalyst for what we now know today as ‘Gonzo’ style reporting, the self-styled Hunter S Thompson’s unashamedly graphic, erratically subjective account into the dark journey and sordid depths of the American dream quickly became a cult classic upon its publication in 1972 and indeed was always destined for the big screen.
Eventually released in 1997, Jonny Depp is perfectly cast as spaced-out reporter Raoul Duke, who along with his attorney Dr Gonzo (an impressively overweight Benicio Del Toro) travel to the bright lights of Vegas (then known to be the epitome of the American dream) in what becomes a trip bestowed by hallucinatory psychedelics and a roller-coaster of misadventure. Based on the factual happenings of Thompson’s trip to Vegas with then attorney Oscar Acosta, the film spectacularly brings to life the events which took place during what was supposed to be a routine account by Thompson on the annual Mint 400 desert races being held in the Nevada state.
With director Terry Gilliam largely sticking by Thompson’s narration, this is by no means a glorification of binge drug use, but a hazy take on life where only hallucinogenic drugs possess any value, albeit told with maximum comedic value along the way. Visually grotesque yet genuinely comical, it’s ‘cult classic’ status is compounded by the masterfully eccentric performances from Depp and Del Toro alone.