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DOMINO (director: Tony Scott; screenwriters: Richard Kelly/story by Mr. Kelly and Steve Barancik; cinematographer: Daniel Mindel; editor: William Goldenberg; music: Harry Gregson-Williams; cast: Keira Knightley (Domino Harvey), Mickey Rourke (Ed Mosbey), Edgar Ramirez (Choco), Rizwan Abbasi (Alf), Ian Ziering (Himself), Brian Austin Green (Himself), Christopher Walken (Mark Heiss), Mena Suvari (Kimmie), Jacqueline Bisset (Sophie Wynn), Lucy Liu (Taryn Miles), Delroy Lindo (Claremont Williams III), Mo’Nique (Lateesha Rodriguez), Macy Gray (Lashandra Davis), Shondrella Avery (Lashindra Davis), Joseph Nuñez (Raul), Dabney Coleman (Drake Bishop), Tabitha Brownstone (Young Domino), Anthony Cigliutti (Stanley Kamel), Tom Waits (Wanderer), Frances (Kel O’Neill), Lew Temple (Thief who gets his arm detached), Dale Dickey (Edna Fender); Runtime: 113; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Tony Scott/Samuel Hadida; New Line Cinema; 2005)
“Clarity is not one of the film’s strong points.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Tony Scott’s (“Spy Game”/”The Last Boy Scout”) lowbrow tongue-in-cheek action-comedy pic uses its muddled plot to present a series of cheap thrills that range from an arm detached, an unauthorized mescaline trip, lap dances and assorted explosive moments over deadly gun duels (a tawdry blend of sex and violence). Clarity is not one of the film’s strong points; in fact, Scott seems to say the hell with clarity when the idea is anyway just to shoot for kick ass entertainment. It’s the kind of troubled pic where Mickey Rourke can shine as a nasty character who is not all bad and Tom Waits can have a cameo as an inexplicable wanderer in the Nevada desert, and no one should blink if either of their roles make much sense or not. This filmmaker does not cater to the serious viewer, anyway. So those fans of Ridley’s bad-boy brother, might have a different view of this flick than most critics. If you dig bang-bang and pyrotechnical treats and could care less if the story has any brain work, then Tony Scott’s your boy.

The disappointing script is by Richard Kelly, who was the writer-director of the much acclaimed Donnie Darko. Full of fun for those who fancy sleaze and the adrenaline rush of a machine gun paced film, Scott keeps things dumb, senseless, unconvincing, and shoots in ugly putrid color shadings. There’s much more that’s repulsive than attractive, in a movie that loses track of its subject matter due to its fanciful excesses and not paying attention to getting its real story straight.

This is a fictionalized tale of the real-life bounty-hunter Domino Harvey (whose real story could be a good one, if told right!), the privileged Londoner, the daughter of actor Laurence Harvey and model jet-setter Pauline Stone, who recently died of a drug overdose (supposedly pain killers) in her bathtub while under house arrest for allegedly dealing methamphetamine.

The film is framed through an FBI interrogation involving a battered but still combative bounty hunter under arrest named Domino Harvey (Keira Knightley) and her hostile agent questioner (Lucy Liu). It then traces how Domino rejected her privileged life as the daughter of actor Laurence Harvey (he died at 45 in 1973 when she was an infant) and her mother Sophie (Jacqueline Bisset), her fictionalized name for the film. The beautiful but volatile and tough-talking heavily decorated with body art Domino was thrown out of college and sabotaged her promising modeling career to join up with roughneck adventurous bounty hunters, the legendary Ed Mosbey (Mickey Rourke) and his Venezuelan partner Choco (Edgar Ramirez), in order to have an unusual job for a woman of chasing down bail jumpers–which she says should be fun. The trio work for the oily bail bondsman Claremont Williams (Delroy Lindo). At first the bounty hunters are shown working the mean streets of LA to bring in wanted drug dealers and assorted criminals, and then after getting fame for their dangerous work the producer (Christopher Walken) of a reality TV show wishing to cash in on their popularity uses them for his show. Going along with the bounty hunters in their first reality episode are fictional hosts, two alums of “Beverly Hills 90210” (they are actually played by the two alums of that show, Brian Austin Green and Ian Ziering). Also added to the bounty hunter team is Afghan driver, wouldn’t you know it he’s also an explosives expert, Alf (Rizwan Abbasi). The TV cameras roll as the bounty hunter’s boss Claremont gets them involved in a convoluted scheme that involves going after the First Ladies who robbed mob-connected Las Vegas casino owner Drake Bishop (Dabney Coleman) of ten million dollars, that somehow involves DMV clerks mixed up in a fake-license scheme (Mo’Nique, Macy Gray, Shondrella Avery, Joseph Nuñez). Later it will involve the frat boy son, Frances, of mobster Anthony Cigliutti. This gives Scott a chance to take this baby on an ultra-violent send off mixing in the blowing up of Las Vegas’ Stratosphere with a drawn-out messy shootout, and ending on a cheap sentimental note about saving a baby’s life with a $300,000 operation and Afghan children jumping for joy as Las Vegas money comes raining down on them. This incoherent movie can’t be explained, only to be enjoyed by those who have found everything they want in such an outlandish exercise in film-making or detested by those who can’t get over its stupidity.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”