Tuesday 7 July 2015

Movie Review: Domino (2005)

A case of all style and almost incomprehensible substance, Domino dazzles the senses in a vain attempt to cover up the lack of any meaningful content in the turgid story of a female bounty hunter.

The bloodied but defiant Domino Harvey (Keira Knightley) is being questioned by FBI agent Taryn Mills (Lucy Liu) about a $10 million heist that has gone terribly wrong. Domino recounts her life story. The daughter of actor Laurence Harvey, she was drifting through life until she joined the team of grizzled bounty hunter Ed (Mickey Rourke) and his sidekick Choco (Edgar Ramirez). Domino quickly establishes a reputation as fearless and resourceful and she catches the attention of television producer Mark Heiss (Christopher Walken), who launches a reality show about the bounty hunters despite the objections of Domino's mother Sophie (Jacqueline Bisset).

Ed's main client is bail bondsman Claremont (Delroy Lindo), whose mistress Lateesha (Mo'Nique), an employee of the Department of Motor Vehicles, needs $300,000 for her granddaughter's operation. Claremont concocts a plan to steal $10 million from Las Vegas tycoon Drake Bishop (Dabney Coleman), with the intention of having his squad of bounty hunters "recover" the money in exchange for a $300,000 finders fee. When Lateesha's illicit licensing activities land her in trouble, she unintentionally gets the teenaged children of mob boss Anthony Cigliutti (Stanley Kamel) involved in the heist. Domino and her crew get dropped into a mess of an explosive situation, starting with an armed and bloody standoff at the mobile home of getaway driver Locus Fender and his shotgun-toting mother Edna.

Director Tony Scott starts with the true story of the real Domino Harvey, but uses her only as a loose inspiration. Screenwriter Richard Kelly creates an out of control narrative that tries and fails to emulate Tarantino's intertwining multi-character story construction. Instead Scott allows his worst trickster impulses to take over, resulting in a film that calls attention to its director in every scene. Domino is a land of spaced-out narration, repeated snippets of dialogue, editing that is in turns jarring and dreamy, and vivid green and yellow colours dominating the screen.

The film's visual style is either distractingly overwrought or artistically stunning, but regardless cannot compensate for a story that is a strange mix of ludicrous and vacant. With the cardboard characters offering no wit and eliciting no sympathy, the gory violence and ridiculous shootouts carry no impact. It really does not matter who among the snide collection of lowlifes lives or dies from scene to scene. The entire reality television show sub-plot is a needless exercise in unfunny bloat, and the endlessly hesitant romance between Domino and Choco never gets past the stuttering stage. The complicated heist component of the film then arrives late and starts to veer into unfathomable territory, transforming Domino's 127 minutes of running time into a true endurance test.

Keira Knightley delivers a suitably glum performance, the rich girl who takes up big guns to compensate for an absentee famous daddy. Mickey Rourke is the only cast member trying to inject a human depth to his character, but the script offers him little to work with.

Domino is a jazzy feast for the eyes, but otherwise tumbles with an unseemly clatter.

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