Heads You Win, Tails You Die

by Alan Rapp on October 14, 2005

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Domino
  • IMDB: link

domino-posterWhat an entertaining ride.  Although rather messy and with more than a couple of flaws, Domino delivers one of the most enjoyable and watchable films this year.  Comparison to Tarantino’s Kill Bill are probably inevitable, but this is a far superior film with actual heart.  And damn, is it fun!!

Domino Harvey (Keira Knightley) is a glamour girl with a thirst for violence turned bounty hunter.  As the film opens Domino is in custody telling FBI Agent Taryn Miles (Lucy Liu) discussing what went wrong and landed her handcuffed in the interrogation room.  Something horrible happened on the last bounty and the movie is a series of flashbacks inter-cut with Knightley telling her story and finding her own understanding of what happened out in the desert.

The Bounty Squad, Knightley, Ed (Mickey Rourke), and Choco (Edgar Ramirez) is sent after some bank robbers by Claremont Williams (Delroy Lindo).  The first problem is nothing about this bounty is what it appears to be.  The second problem is the group has just signed a reality television deal that was the brainchild of crazed producer Mark Heiss (Christopher Walken)  and has a camera crew along with celebrity hosts Brian Austin Green and Ian Ziering, and a bus driven by a crazy Afgani who they call Alf (Riz Abbasi).

Tony Scott’s movies have a certain look and textured feel to them that can sometimes detract from the story (camera tricks, quick cuts, among others).  The way the movie is structured, much like Scott’s Spy Game, really uses his style in the best way possible.

Keira KnightleyKnightley shows once again that the camera loves her, but here she also proves she can carry a big budget action film all the way through the finish.  Rourke and Ramiriez are terrific as her surrogate dysfunctional family.  And any movie that looks back at Beverly Hills 90210 with this level of disdain AND gets two of its stars to go along with it, well that’s just priceless.

Scott gets the best out of every role, and there are quite a few big names here that are used in tiny parts usually reserved for much lesser actors.  Mena Suvari finally shows us the girl we’ve been waiting to see since American Beauty, as Walken’s assistant who with her eyes tells you more about her crazy boss then anything else; that and her one line about a ferret which summarizes Walken perfectly will make you wonder where this girl has been.  Walken, Lindo, Liu, Jacqueline Bisset, Dabney Coleman, Stanley Kamel, hell even Tom Waits and Macy Gray show up and give good performances!

There are some flaws, logic and plot holes surface, and the film begins to go off the track late in the third act, though it does right itself before the end.  The structure and form of the movie allows these flaws to be minimized, but they are there and if the film wasn’t such an entertaining and well acted film they would be major issues.

Scott knew the real Domino Harvey and waited ten years to tell her story in film.  The opening states the film is inspired by a true story, sort of.  That short acknowledged addendum is what makes the film work so well.  Yes the film is based on a real person, but Scott took the liberties to make an entertaining film rather than be tied down to a strict biography.  Even with all it’s flaws Domino is a beauty that should garner a few long stares and may just thrust Knightley into a new bracket, along with her role from Pirates of the Carribean, as an action heroine that neither Thurman nor Beckingsale could deliver.

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