Director : Tony Scott
Screenplay : Richard Kelly (story by Richard Kelly & Steve Barancik)
MPAA Rating : R
Year of Release : 2005
Domino, Tony Scott’s latest feat of mind-numbing visual overkill, is a true ordeal--a literal chore to sit through--which is a shame because he’s working with potentially fascinating material. A fictionalized riff on the real-life model-turned-bounty hunter Domino Harvey (daughter of Hollywood actor Laurence Harvey), Domino has great potential, but Scott buries it in an avalanche of pointless style that has reached a point of sheer ludicrousness; one might usefully think of it as “visual vomit.” Filters, double exposures, multiple film stocks, discontinuous cutting--nothing is off-base for Scott at any given moment, which is why his films have grown so infuriating.
Tatted up, with her hair cut off, and wearing tons of eye make-up, Keira Knightley certainly fits the part of a good-girl-gone-bad. The script by Richard Kelly (writer/director of the cult fave Donnie Darko) tells her story in typically nonlinear fashion, opening in the midst of utter turmoil and then cutting back to show how the characters got themselves in such a predicament. He drops in bits and pieces of Domino’s backstory, but they’re told in brief flashes that don’t really let us get to know her as a person until she’s already fully embraced her bad-girl self, flipping nunchakus and cussing like a sailor.
Domino teams up with two veteran bounty hunters, the grungy, seen-it-all, best-in-the-business Ed Mosbey (Mickey Rourke) and his protégé, Choco (Edgar Ramirez), who Ed rescued off the streets years earlier. Domino forces her way into an alliance with the two men through sheer willpower and tenacity, and while they at first resist her, they soon learn that having an attractive, devil-may-care woman on their team has its benefits, such as when she gets them out of a sticky situation involving a lot of guns pointed at them by offering their adversary a lap dance.
The core of the story involves an inside job gone bad. Bail-bondsman Claremont Williams (Delroy Lindo) sets up an armored truck heist to pay for an operation needed by the granddaughter of one of his favorite mistresses, Lateesha Rodriguez (Mo'Nique). Unfortunately, they unknowingly pin the blame on the two sons of a vicious mob boss, whom Domino, Ed, and Choco are sent to pick up. This means that both the cops and the mafia are after them. Meanwhile, they have agreed to allow reality TV cameras to follow them for a show called Bounty Squad hosted by Beverly Hills 90210 vets Ian Ziering and Brian Austin Green, who gamely play themselves as shallow bottom-feeders willing to do anything to catch a break.
As one can see from that brief plot description, there is no lacking of narrative in Domino. If there is a bright spot at all in this overproduced mess, it is that Kelly’s screenplay has enough twists and turns to keep it vaguely involving, even as Scott’s overzealous visual audacity pounds away at any sense of enjoyment. It’s hard to know what exactly Scott is trying to accomplish with his visual scheme, since it plays as audience punishment. If the definition of boring is being forced to endure the same thing over and over again, Scott has long since crossed over into the land of the tedious as he bangs away with all the sound and fury he can muster, signifying absolutely nothing along the way.
Copyright ©2005 James Kendrick
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