Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

Rated 4.0

The 2006 Hunter S. Thompson documentary Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride wasted half of its running time on hagiographic testimonies from the writer’s flaky friends, as well as clips from the two deficient Thompson film adaptations. This more penetrating 2007 Thompson doc by Oscar-winner Alex Gibney (Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room) offers more of a warts-and-all treatment, and comes a lot closer to figuring out what made the gun-and-drug-loving gonzo journalist tick. Employing a treasure chest of archival film and audio material, Gibney traces Thompson’s run-ins with history—from the Hell’s Angels in San Francisco to the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago to Las Vegas and beyond—but also shows how Thompson’s public image became his prison, and his downfall as a writer. Even longtime supporter Jann Wenner can point to only three worthy pieces that Thompson penned post-1972.