If you’re foolish enough to visit the cinema to watch Domino it’s possible that, a very short time into it, you may well find yourself experiencing what is, in the words of Jules Winnfield, a moment of clarity. You’ll realise that you’re watching a non-film, a life sucking disaster with no merits whatsoever, and you’ll be forced to wonder if, at some point during its making, director Tony Scott has also realised he’s got absolutely nothing, and decided to see if he could throw something together in the editing room.
It’s the (sort of ) true story of Domino Harvey (Knightley), daughter of actor Lawrence Harvey, who goes from her comfortable English existence to model and LA bounty hunter. It’s not so much a biopic as an account of the disaster that became one of her last big jobs, along with her cohorts Ed Mosbey (Rourke), Choco (Ramirez), and the somewhat dodgy bail bondsman Claremont Williams (Lindo) pulling the strings. We’re told her tale in flashback as she’s questioned by the feds over the recovery of a $10m haul involving a casino owner, the mob and a reality TV show that’s too complicated to even matter.
Scott has always been flashy, employing a wealth of editing techniques and tricks that, when used in context and in the service of the story (Enemy of the State being a prime example) are fully justified and often downright entertaining. Here, they’re used not so much as a narrative tool, but as a way to try and disguise the fact that Domino bears absolutely no resemblance to a piece of storytelling. Slo-mo, blurred slo-mo, repeated dialogue, black and white, needless subtitles and on screen text, bleached, washed out visuals and more cuts than have probably ever been used in a film before all serve to deliver something that transcends mere accusations of style over substance. It’s wank over style.
Almost as bad as the direction is the embarrassment of a screenplay that tells us everything and shows us nothing. A decent starting point might have been to make us even the slightest bit invested in any of the protagonists, but we learn nothing and care not a jot. There are no characters, no story and no point. A bevy of very good actors are either completely wasted or completely insufferable. Knightley may or may not be miscast but she can’t really be blamed for the farce that’s imploding around her, and nor can anyone else. The film won’t contribute to Rourke’s renaissance and it won’t make you wish that Tom Waits and Dabney Coleman got more work. Walken is simply off the reservation and that alone should be enough to push Domino very close indeed to being the worst film of the year.
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