by Scott Weinberg
On more than one occasion I have found myself coming to the defense of filmmaker Tony Scott. Younger brother to the also rather successful Ridley Scott, Tony has this ...visual flair ... that's all his own. The guy shoots his scenes like he's falling out of a bus, and then he whiplash-edits the footage into something resembling a cinematic cocktail: splashy, well-blended, and full of strong flavor. Some people love the taste; others do not. But with the director's latest effort, the ramshackle and annoyingly inaccessible "Domino," I now fully understand what the Tony Scott detractors are talking about.Before any of you naysayers casually dismiss Tony Scott as a glorified TV commercial hack, just take a look at the body of work he's built up over the years: The Hunger, Top Gun, Beverly Hills Cop 2, Revenge, Days of Thunder, The Last Boy Scout, True Romance, Crimson Tide, The Fan, Enemy of the State, Spy Game, and Man on Fire. Some damn fine movies, and some expensive, flashy turkeys. But just about every single one of 'em is visually arresting and kinetic enough to warrant a visit should they pop up on cable one boring night.
"I bet the real story would have been a whole lot more interesting."
Domino, on the other hand, is not. Visually, the thing looks like a 2-hour commercial for WWF Nitro, whatever that is. The director seems so obliviously intent on creating a gritty, glitzy, grungy, and bizarre-looking movie that he apparently forgot all about, y'know, the story. (Very) loosely based on the life of a gal who is now dead and therefore cannot sue anybody, Domino drops the "based on fact" pretense early, often, and with very little discernible effort.
And the story is this: Domino Harvey, daughter of a well-known actor and sneering bitch in general, leaves the world of high-end fashion modeling for the sweaty and ass-kickish realm of ... bounty hunting?
Yeah, model-turned-bounty hunter. As a premise, it could absolutely work. But that's all Domino's got to offer: a premise. With a screenplay credited to Donnie Darko creator Richard Kelly, Domino should have been a weird, smart little trip. But oh, my fellow movie fans, how wrong some movies go before they hit the multiplexes.
The messy plot is constructed in one of those intentionally obtuse "flashback extravaganza" frameworks, a filmmaking technique that's often employed to hide the fact that the director forgot about inserting a "plot" somewhere. So instead of an A to B to C plot structure that's a little conventional, but still entertaining, we get an L to C to X delivery that exists only to confuse and annoy.
So the gal, as played by Keira Knightley (aka a girl who couldn't kick anyone's ass without the help of, say, three well-paid bodyguards), prefers a life spent with smelly thugs and outlaws over a posh existence filled with lovers and lace. But then what? We never get much insight into the actual character of Domino Harvey (which is kind of a shame, considering that the real Domino passed away just two months ago), nor are we given much reason to care about A) who she shoots or B) who tries to shoot her, because all we're asked to notice is C) who's shooting the movie.
Domino feels like a rrrreally old joke told by a guy who thinks that lots of sudden, spastic movements will, somehow, make the joke a whole lot fresher and funnier. And as much as I hate to paraphrase a guy who never wrote a movie review in his entire life, Domino is a whole lotta sound and fury signifying not only nothing ... but a very raucous, insistent, and gratingly redundant nothing.Not one member of the extended supporting cast manages to elevate this material into anything other than a glossy piece of hyper-edited ruckus. And when a movie's overpowering visual trickeries manage to upstage Keira Knightley, Mickey Rourke, Christopher Walken AND a pair of guys from Beverly Hills 90210, well, that's just wrong. If you decide to check out "Domino," be sure to bring a few aspirins ... and some sunglasses. (The flick gets an extra half-star for inviting Dabney Coleman to the party, but I wish someone would turn off the strobe lights already.)
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=13168&reviewer=128
originally posted: 10/14/05 14:17:57