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'Domino' lives fast, dies young

Photo courtesy of New Line Cinema
Edgar Ramirez, Keira Knightley and singer Tom Waits star in Tony Scott's new film 'Domino,' which turns out not to be as sexy as the trailer suggests.
By Nate Buchik
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, October 20, 2005
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"Domino" gets a bit chaotic with flash-cuts, endless zooms and an extremely saturated color scheme that's bathed in green. So much style shoved down so fast means that director Tony Scott had trouble finding space for any kind of meaningful content. And so the end product is equal parts impressive and maddening.

The film starts in an interrogation room, with the questioning done by Lucy Liu. Bounty hunter Domino Harvey (Keira Knightley) sits opposite her, and has been injured doing whatever led her to the police station. The questioning leads to a Domino narration, and we hear about her rise to a criminal life amid bits of information about how she ended up caught by the police. Essentially this is a biopic with a bonus thriller attached.

Domino, the British daughter of a famous actor and a model, saw a normal life disappear when her dad died and her mom sent her off to boarding school. She eventually started practicing weaponry, and was a hard-ass at a young age. (This provides for a great scene where she knocks out her insulting sorority sister).

In Los Angeles, she gains the attention of Ed (Mickey Rourke), the most famous bounty hunter in the world, and Choco (Edgar Ramirez), a crazy and beautiful Spaniard. Domino joins their team and quickly becomes Bounty Hunter of the Year, utilizing her good looks and violent nature.

A large supporting cast is involved in the fateful job that messed up Domino's career. Christopher Walken plays a reality TV producer who wants to capitalize on Domino's insanity, and, in one of the film's stranger turns, "90210's" Ian Ziering and Brian Austin Green play themselves as hosts of the proposed show.

An Afghani driver, the Mafia and a Vegas billionaire also get involved. Not to mention the small underworld that works at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Don't See It

5 out of 10
Rated R
127 Minutes
New Line Cinema

The story is told in nonsequential order, with Domino changing things she said earlier when she finds out new information. We know that there is a lot of money on the line, and a severed arm is the key to getting the money out of the safe. After that, it gets a little confusing and a lot stupid. A little girl with cancer provides motivation for the surprisingly moral bounty hunters, and Tom Waits shows up as a prophet when the movie seems to be getting lost.

The script, penned by "Donnie Darko" writer/director Richard Kelly is ambitious and uneven. His attempt to make the film a satire of action movies with an often-delusional protagonist is ruined by director Scott and Knightley.

Knightley, coming off roles in which she plays much more delicate characters, is so unbelievable as the rough and tough Domino that Scott has decided it's best for her to keep repeating the insufferable phrases, "I am a bounty hunter" and "heads you live, tails you die." This is as futile an effort as my grandmother's to get me to like casserole by continually feeding it to me.

But Scott is the one to blame here because this has reportedly been his pet project for almost a decade. His attempt, I suppose, was to show the audience the way Domino saw the world. But he fails the real Domino Harvey, making her film equivalent straight (Domino was bi), compassionate (a bounty hunter?) and a Hollywood cliché.

She's "Kill Bill's" The Bride without anything to be pissed about. She's "Natural Born Killers'" Mallory without a sadistic streak.

Instead of making her unique, Scott makes her normal, average and understandable.

I doubt that a 100-pound bounty hunter would be anything like that.

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