Movie review by Greg Carlson
A colossally stupid movie that fails to entertain on even a basic level, Tony Scott’s “Domino” makes “Man on Fire” look like Chekhov by comparison. A winking fantasy based only tangentially on the life of recently deceased former bounty hunter Domino Harvey, Scott’s tale is dominated by his signature stylistics: jump cuts, action in reverse, saturated and de-saturated imagery, jittery handheld photography, fish-eye lenses, and just about any other flashy trick one can imagine. The whole mess, stitched together in such a way as to make viewers physically sick, is shocking only for its lack of intelligence.
Keira Knightley struggles mightily to do something with the title role, but Richard Kelly’s unimaginative writing leaves no room for any of the film’s actors to develop interesting or memorable characterizations. Instead, the movie is content to focus on gunplay and explosions, which seem to take place in every other scene. With a chopped-up narrative that connects bits and pieces of Domino’s chronology through an interrogation by FBI agent Lucy Liu, “Domino” makes the mistake of putting too many balls in the air at the same time. Plots skitter and scamper without any care taken to see that they really benefit the film.
A perfunctory introduction dragged down by unnecessary voiceover narration lets us know that Domino Harvey was the wealthy but bored daughter of actor Laurence Harvey and model Paulene Stone (Scott cannot resist showing clips of “The Manchurian Candidate” on a background TV). Among other things, Domino must contend with the odd attention of her co-worker Choco (Edgar Ramirez), a fellow bounty hunter whose inability to profess his love results in his insistence on speaking Spanish to Domino, even though she cannot understand one word. Late in the movie, when everything has completely fallen apart, Domino and Choco engage in some mescaline-fueled sex following a road accident. It doesn’t make any sense, but then, little in this movie does.
In other tossed-together storylines, Domino ends up the star of a reality TV show hosted by “Beverly Hills, 90210” thesps Ian Ziering and Brian Austin Green, playing themselves. Christopher Walken, normally able to at least rescue his own performance when stuck in bad movies, plays the show’s producer, but disappears after a scene or two. Domino also gets mixed up in the fallout from a head-scratching phony driver’s license scheme involving a close associate of her boss Mickey Rourke (who is nowhere near as interesting as he was in “Sin City”). On top of all that, an armored car heist, a Vegas casino standoff, and a desert shootout serve as opportunities to spend hundreds of rounds of ammo.
“Domino” adds up to exactly zero, and oddly, for a movie that revels in the lurid aspects of its subject’s life, chooses not to address Harvey’s well-documented drug addiction. Harvey herself appears at the end of the movie, and served as a consultant to Scott, to whom she had sold the rights to make a fictional version of her life story. “Domino” ends with a dedication to Harvey, and her death marks a dismal end to her tale. “Domino” is certainly no great tribute, as it does not reveal anything of substance about its heroine, an attractive young woman of privilege who chose to practice a dangerous profession.
This review was originally published in the High Plains Reader the week of 10/17/05.