Wednesday, October 12, 2005


Film: Domino (2005)
Director: Tony Scott
Tagline: "Heads You Live. Tails You Die."
Rating: * out of 5 stars

(Ok folks, this is the review I submitted for publication in the campus newspaper. I need to know what you think! Leave comments!!)


“Caution: If you have a heart condition or epilepsy, you should not watch this film.”

Such a warning label should have accompanied Domino, a movie with so many flashing lights and repetitious beats that you are lucky if you leave the theatre with only a headache. It is gritty, chaotic, noisy and above all, completely unapologetic.

The latest action film by director Tony Scott (Enemy of the State) loosely follows the life of Domino Harvey, the real life model-turned-bounty hunter who recently died of a drug overdose in Los Angeles. “Loosely” is the key word, since Scott and screenwriter Richard Kelly, who penned the cult hit Donnie Darko, have twisted Harvey’s story into a grungy, hyperactive acid trip of a movie, in which the line between reality and fiction is blurred beyond recognition.

Born of famous parents, Domino (Keira Knightley, Pirates of the Caribbean) longs to trade her rich, privileged life for one of excitement. Bored of private schools and modeling jobs, she joins a motley crew of bounty hunters, including Mosbey (Mickey Rourke, Sin City) and Choco (newcomer Edgar Ramirez) who become her surrogate family.

After establishing themselves as LA’s most infamous bail agents, the gang is approached by television producer Mark Heiss (Christopher Walken, The Rundown), who makes them the stars of the new reality show, “Bounty Squad”. What follows is a nearly incoherent mess involving stolen money, a sick child, mobsters, frat boys, and the FBI. All these events are told in the form of flashbacks to a federal investigator portrayed by Lucy Lui, who seemingly serves no actual purpose in this film.

The leading actors, particularly Knightley, are very enjoyable but unfortunately their talents go to waste here. Walken, who provides his trademark one-liners, does not receive nearly enough screen time, and Rourke, whose character had great potential, is gradually forgotten as the film wildly veers off-course.

Instead of the actors taking the spotlight, Scott’s self-indulgent camera trickery desperately screams, “Look at me!” His hyper-kinetic camera movements and echoing dialogue (how many times do we need to hear Domino say, “I am a bounty hunter”?) are shining examples of a filmmaker trying way too hard to be edgy and cool. In reality, Scott blatantly rips off the work of other directors (Tarantino, Ritchie, Soderbergh) or simply recycles techniques he overused in his previous films (Man on Fire). Even Domino’s conclusion is directly stolen from True Romance, one of Scott’s better works.

The film cannot focus on a single shot for more than five seconds, instead cutting to the same visual icons over and over (coins symbolize fate – okay, we get it!). The plot also flies off on fantastical tangents involving Jerry Springer and a mysterious prophet.

To its defense, Domino packs some exciting, brutal moments and funny dialogue. Harvey’s story is immensely interesting, but sadly the film butchers it for the sake of satirizing reality television - the film’s feeble attempt at social commentary. Any meaning the story might have had is lost in the movie’s frantic, color-bleached style.

At one point, a character refers to Walken’s character as having “the attention span of a ferret on meth.” That one line accurately sums up this movie. While watching a small animal under the influence of stimulants might seem entertaining, I dare you to tolerate it for 133 mind-numbing minutes.


Rick said...

good review. I was interested in seeing this movie until I found out it was directed by Tony Scott. Ridley got all the talent.