'Domino' Review *** 111505
Theatrical Review (2005)

..DVD:.................. Blu-ray:

The Work = ***
'Domino' is the second film in a row directed by Tony Scott that manages to work in spite of itself. When car maker BMW had their second series of short films under the title of 'The Hire', Scott signed on and directed 'The Hire: Beat the Devil'. The short film was about singer James Brown racing the devil to gain eternal youth. Heavy on style, 'The Hire' is wall to wall quick cuts, distorted visuals and distorted audio tracks. The look and sound of the short must have rubbed off on Scott because his next movie 'Man on Fire' has a very similar look.

Now 'Domino' has come and I have many of the same problems with it that I had with 'Man on Fire'. While the heavy stylistics worked surprisingly well in 'Beat the Devil' they get a bit tiring in his two subsequent films. Dramatic moments, action sequences and sometimes just lines of dialogue are so consistently distorted that I was constantly taken out of the moment. For what it is worth many sequences in 'Domino' (and 'Man on Fire' for that matter) do work well. It is those moments, as well as the performances of the actors that make the films for me.

I will say that I am a big fan of Tony Scott and a couple of his films are among my favorites. His films all have a certain quality that appeals to me. As I sit here trying to put into words what that is, I have to admit I can’t quite articulate what it is. Perhaps it is his use of slow motion, or the gritty quality of many of his films. 'Domino' has both of those qualities and it had some snazzy looking trailers, some actors I liked and an interesting premise.

'Domino', as you are probably are aware tells the story of real life bounty hunter Domino Harvey. I am really hoping the DVD release of 'Domino' has a documentary about her because her story is a fascinating one. She was the daughter of actor Lawrence Harvey. For a time she was a young model before growing dissatisfaction lead her to other careers. Most notable she was, amongst other things, a firefighter before becoming a bounty hunter.

I suspect she was a bit of an adrenaline junky and she had a somewhat successful career as a bounty hunter before she had a bit of downfall. From what I understand she a battled drug addiction and was caught up in an FBI drug sting. Tragically, she would be found unconscious earlier this year and would pass away from a drug overdose before the movie would be released. Now, I’m getting all this from the brief bits I read in news articles about her but she sounded like a very interesting character.

The film seems less concerned with who she is than the plot she gets mixed up in. In fact, the film being based on her life really only works as the tag line implies: “based on a true story... sort of.” In the film she goes to a seminar by a bounty hunter Ed Mosbey (Mickey Rourke.) It is more or less a scam, she catches on and goes after him and his partner Choco (Edgar Ramirez.) Domino is played by Keira Knightley and she certainly gives it her all but during the more physical moments is not exactly convincing. While not as ridiculous as her fight scenes in 'King Arthur' she just doesn’t look like she has the muscle, mass, or tough to throw the punks around.

Still, it is the movies as they say and she certainly has the attitude and gets kudos for going in with both barrels blazing. Rourke is great as Ed and it seems he is finally back in movies and getting great roles. Whatever you think of the film his character is good and he is made for this type of role. Ramirez is also great as Choco. I’ve never seen the man in a film before but he is very good here and I’ll be curious to see what else he appears in. Delroy Lindo, Christopher Walken, Mo’Nique, Macey Gray, a couple of fellows from '90210', and a few other notables also pop up in smaller roles and all do a solid job. Walken and Lindo in particular seem to be having a ball and the gusto that the cast put in helps to carry the film.

So, I have written my way around reviewing the film which is my roundabout way of admitting that while I like many elements of the film and I suppose enjoyed it overall, I just wanted more from the film. Well, less stylistics, more excitement or urgency. Domino joins Ed’s team (he thinks having a hot girl around will help their image,) and the three (Ed, Choco and Domino) get wrapped up in a stolen money scheme that is really not worth going into the specifics of. Many scenes work but some felt downright random and at times I have to admit I was puzzled as to why they were included. (The arm anyone?)

There you have it. If you dig the stylistics and don’t mind that 'Domino' plays like its trailer except for two hours than you will probably enjoy it. It is violent and often funny but never manages to be as interesting as Domino’s real life seems. That is probably not a fair comparison but it was thrown in my face by the filmmakers so I couldn’t get away from it. I’m a Scott fan (as well as a fan of many in the cast) and I will probably own the DVD but in the end it is just barely recommended.


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