October 17, 2005

Domino2 Stars

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“My name is Domino Harvey. I am a bounty hunter.” If you have heard those words, you are not alone, because the trailer and poster for the new movie Domino beat that line into moviegoers’ heads. If you walk into Domino expecting any other filmmaking epiphanies, consider yourself warned. You will learn two things from the movie. One, Domino Harvey is a bounty hunter. Two, if a notoriously subtle director such as Clint Eastwood ever watched this movie, he would most likely dropkick Tony Scott.

Domino stars Keira Knightley as in the title role, the daughter of legendary actor Laurence Harvey. After rejecting upper class society, Domino decides to use her tremendous physical skill in order to be a bounty hunter. She joins up with Ed (Mickey Rourke) and Choco (Edgar Ramirez) to collect money for bail bondsman Claremont Williams (Delroy Lindo). Claremont ropes the hunters into a ridiculously complicated scheme involving the DMV, the mafia, Afghanistan, the FBI, Jerry Springer, reality TV and four criminals who commit a robbery wearing first lady masks (probably the first time in history that anyone has ripped off Point Break).

The strength of the movie lies in the acting of Knightley and Rourke. Knightley proves that she can carry a movie and is entirely convincing as the tough-as-nails Domino. Rourke succeeds as Ed, playing the role with the right combination of toughness and compassion. His performance shows that his legacy will be more than his various arrests, being a dead ringer for Bruce Willis and single-handedly jump-starting the strawberry industry after 9 1/2 Weeks.

The rest of the cast is perhaps the most random concoction of actors I have ever seen on film. Dabney Coleman, Jacquelline Bisset, Jerry Springer, Lucy Liu, Macy Gray, Mo’Nique, Mena Suvari, Christopher Walken, Ian Ziering (as himself!) and Brian Austin Green (also as himself!) all play supporting roles in the movie. This is probably the first time in the history of the written word that anybody has said this, but Ziering and Green’s self parodies were incredibly effective.

Domino’s script was written by Richard Kelly who penned Donnie Darko. While Darko featured Kelly at his best, effectively mixing pop culture references, deep themes and strong character development, the script for Domino lacks this combination. While Kelly’s inclusion of Ziering and Green lampooning their Beverly Hills 90210 selves was hilarious, his other references seem out of place, including a completely unnecessary Jerry Springer scene and lines like “Claremont was Charlie to our three angels” (although Claremont was clearly more like Bosley). Kelly’s script also includes absolutely no character development and includes two themes of media satire and religious sacrifice that are never explored to the fullest.

The deepest fault of the movie is veteran director Tony Scott whose resume includes Top Gun, Man on Fire and Crimson Tide. Scott has a distinctive style that is more appropriate for a music video. He uses a tremendous amount of quick cuts, zoom shots, and color saturation which would work if the entire audience was made up of antsy four year olds. He also has an annoying habit of pausing the shot to put names or other words on the screen. Also, he uses shots of bullets going backwards into their guns not once, but twice! This made me wonder whether Scott had just watched Korn’s “Freak on a Leash” music video.

Is the movie worth seeing? Probably not. It is not really entertaining and its attempted themes are not explored fully. Although if you like explosions, f-bombs, and 90210 burnouts playing themselves, I guess Domino is the movie for you.

Archived article by Michael Mix
Sun Contributor