From the ether freak-outs to the lizard visions, Terry Gilliam’s adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson’s 1971 classic of gonzo journalism is too faithful to stand as a shapely film or resonant social critique. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas can’t stand at all, in fact. Rather, it wriggles on the ground in a phantasmic fit — a lucid hallucination. Johnny Depp again proves himself our most inventive actor as Thompson stand-in Raoul Duke, a writer who goes to Vegas to cover a motorbike race and leaves with a report on the rot of America. Benicio Del Toro is Dr. Gonzo, Duke’s cohort in a picaresque of dystopian proportions and co-consumer of narcotics too numerous to catalog. The dope’s not the real point, anyhow: To misquote Dali, this movie isn’t about drugs, it is drugs. B+

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
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