Tuesday, 8 January 2013


Title: Domino
Director: Tony Scott
Released: 2005
Staring: Keira Knightley, Mickey Rourke, Edgar Ramirez, Riz Abbasi, Delroy Lindo, Mo’Nique, Dabney Coleman, Lucy Liu, Macy Gray, Jacqueline Bisset, Christopher Walken, Mena Suvari, Brian Austin Green, Ian Ziering, Tom Waits, Jerry Springer

Plot: The fictional biography of Domino Harvey (Knightley), the model turned bounty hunter.

Review: Opening with the title card “This based on a true story….Sort of” it essentially sets the tone for the events which follow as Director Tony Scott brings his usual brand of subtlety (that being one of a house brick to the face) with his this original to say the least Biopic, the idea for which coming after Scott’s business manager sent him an article from “The Mail On Sunday” titled “My Gun For Hire: Why A Movie Star’s Rebel Daughter Turned Into A Bounty Hunter” about Domino Harvey which inspired him to immediately track her down and propose the idea of making a film about her life.

Even though interviews were conducted with Domino and her fellow bounty hunters Ed Marinez (Rourke) and Choco (Ramirez), Scott would reject the first two drafts of the screenplay based on these interviews, due to their conventional nature before finally asking “Donnie Darko” director and scribe Richard Kelly to write the screenplay after he read Kelly’s script for the much underappreciated “Southland Tales” which seemingly would also be the basis for this films screenplay aswell it would seem, especially considering that both films have such a keen interest in pop culture as well as a love of mind twisting plotting which is something this film also has in spades once it gets into the meat of its actual story.

Seeing how Domino Harvey is supposed to be a badass, especially from her confessions of graduating to fighting boys and one that the film would have you believe and a mythos which is essentially diluted by the real life Choco who appears on the special features of the DVD (looking absolutely nothing like the rugged Ramirez’s reimagining of his character) essentially confessing that most of the hunts they carried out involved Domino flirting with the bail jumper usually in a bar and convincing them to follow her outside were he would arrest them. Still you have thought that Scott would have cast a suitably badass female to play her, which sadly does not happen here as we instead get the laughably horrible tough girl act of Knightley who is hideous at the best of times, but here she reaches a new low and kind of laughable level of toughness usually peddled by Noel Clarke in the likes of “Kidulthood” as she smokes, curses and scowls her way through the film. The problem is not so much with the look as she makes a suitable clotheshorse for Domino’s many looks which sways between grunge and punk, with Knightley even rocking a mullet at one point with a suitably white trash look. The problem however comes when she opens her mouth and attempts to snarl out any kind of tough girl dialogue which makes it hard not to snigger, even more so when she makes zero effort to use any kind of accent other than her usual posh tones, which work perfectly fine in Knightley’s usual territory of costume drama and while Domino might have come from upper class roots even she didn’t speak this prim and proper as further highlighted in the interview footage also included on the disc.

So with Scott having kind of screwed up with the casting of his lead, he atleast makes up with it in his supporting cast, who essentially carry the film for Knightly from Rourke’s world weary Ed, who in many ways provides Domino with her missing father figure, while in many ways playing the same for Ramirez’s rough and ready Latin badass Choco. Meanwhile Lucy Liu is on her usual great form as the criminal psychologist, whose interview essentially structures the film as we follow Domino from her early life and the events which lead to her bounty hunting career in the lead up to the fictional armoured truck heist which she finds herself currently being investigated for involvement in. Still despite this heist being thrown into the mix, 95 percent of this film could essentially be seen as being fictional so anyone looking for some kind of serious biopic of her life, might be best not bothering with film, but did you really expect Scott to really make a serious picture to begin with?

Throughout the course of the film, these supporting characters becoming increasingly colourful as we meet Domino’s boss Claremont Williams III (Lindo) and his gaggle of feisty ladies who supply him with information via their positions at the DMV, while being lead by Caremont’s mistress (and world’s youngest Grandmother) Lateesha (Mo’Nique). Of course the Taj Mahal of these characters is Walken’s appearance as TV Executive Mark Heiss who signs the group up for his latest reality TV show project and probably best described in his assistant Kimmie’s speedy brief

“I should let you know that Mr Heiss will only be available to meet for about five minutes, so we should hurry up and cut to the point. Um, and speak in short sentences because he has the attention span of a ferret on crystal meth.”

Unquestionably this is Walken at his unchained best, as he blusters his way through his scenes, with Walken’s usual dialogue projection really only adding to his character here.

While the plot might descend into a slightly confusing mess, but Richard Kelly’s work has always been known for its head scratching quality as memorably seen with his debut “Donnie Darko, but here where he doesn’t have full control over its presentation it does result in the main heist plotline suffering from a twist to far. Meanwhile Scott pummels the viewer with pop culture shots and flashy visuals, while the continuously quick edits make it seem like Scott gave a kid hyperactivity and ADHD a soda and the keys to the editing suite which has at times the tendency to instil a feeling of nausea when viewing, especially in the rare moments he slows the film to crawl. Still when the film works it works well with some truly brutal moments of action, which has always been were Scott has excelled with the finale shootout at the stratosphere in Las Vegas making for a high pressure showdown between the FBI and the Mob, while random asides such as Lateesha pitching a new ethnic classification chart on Jerry Springer keep a surreal edge to things while making it highly reminiscent of “Natural Born Killers”.

True this film is far from perfect, but when Knightly isn’t speaking the film does have its share of truly memorable moments, with a heavy vein of black humour keeping things from getting too serious and for myself at least making it the guiltiest of guilty pleasures.

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