Adapting Hunter S Thompson’s category-defying book was always going to be a challenging experiment – even for the seemingly fearless maverick director Terry Gilliam (who replaced Alex Cox in pre-production).
Ostensibly a warped record of Thompson’s bid to cover the Mint 400 motorcycle race for Rolling Stone magazine, this is more an acid-addled, amphetamine-fuelled search for the American Dream.
Thompson’s distinctive prose survives nearly intact, but, although Johnny Depp brings an amusingly effective twitchy energy to the role of Hunter’s alter ego, sports journalist Raoul Duke – heading towards Las Vegas accompanied by his Samoan attorney, Dr Gonzo (Benicio Del Toro), and a suitcase full of drugs – this brave film falls just short of capturing the book’s errant vibrancy.
The pace is a bit too fast to fully allow the audience to clamber on board, so one can only watch in bemused admiration as it zooms past.
Benicio Del Toro
North Star waitress
Blonde TV reporter