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"Domino"

Directed by Tony Scott.
Written by Richard Kelly.
Starring Keira Knightley, Mickey Rourke, and Edgar Ramirez.
Release Year:  2005
Review Date:  10/11/05

Folks--

My friend Christine called me up today and asked if I wanted to see a movie for free; affirming the obvious, I learned that the freebie in question was "Domino", the new Tony Scott thriller based on the life of a real-life model-turned-bounty-hunter...sort of.

Here's what is real for sure:  Domino Harvey (played in the film by Keira Knightley) really was a model for the Ford Agency in L.A.  Her father was Laurence Harvey, the man who played assassin to Frank Sinatra's ex-POW in the original "The Manchurian Candidate."  Deciding that the life of silver spoon teenager and young adult was not for her, she hooked up with a professional bounty hunter and got into a whole lot of trouble.

Beyond that, it's anyone's guess what is and what isn't made up in "Domino"...but the screenplay by Richard Kelly takes us on a wild ride, that's for sure.  After we watch Domino get to the point where she takes up bounty hunting, we meet a ton of mostly dirty people--you've got the bounty hunters themselves, Ed (Mickey Rourke) and Choco (Edgar Ramirez); the bail bondsman that employs them, Claremont (Delroy Lindo); a shady FBI agent (Lucy Liu) that takes us through the past and present events of Domino's criminal maneuvers; a TV producer (Christopher Walken) bent on making a reality show based on the work of the bounty hunters; even a DMV staffer (Mo'Nique) that is on the take for her lover Claremont.  All of them have a play in the ridiculously setup end game that Domino and her pals have to navigate in order to survive a billionaire, the mob, the feds and her own double-crossing employers.

The first movie that came to mind while watching this film was "True Romance"; coincidentally enough, Tony Scott is the man behind both flicks and both feature so many random cameos (you almost can't believe the plot device that brings back two stars from our recent TV past) that there is almost always something going on.  Like "True Romance", "Domino" also has bursts of brutal violence, but since it's mostly played for fun (another film that came to mind: "Natural Born Killers"), the movie never gets bogged down in a ton of gore.  Like Scott's 2001 film "Spy Game", the editing of "Domino" almost makes you sick; there is so much camera movement and cutting and speeding up the action that I was reaching for a glass of ginger ale by the time I was walking out of the theater.

But the end result is something not quite Tarantino-esque but certainly as entertaining from start to finish; between some cool action scenes, Rourke chewing on the fat (NO ONE in film history can spout lines like Rourke; just hearing him say "blah blah blah G-- DAMN blah blah blah" will make you laugh) and a sweet soundtrack, "Domino" certainly is a thrill ride.  Knightley continues to show you why she will be a star in this world for a dozen years or more--she's still not 21--with another tough, sexy performance that you buy the second she gets onscreen.  Mo'Nique delivers laughs as always; I'm still thinking about the next time I'll be able to drop something like "blatino", "chinegro" or "japanic" on someone and get as good a laugh as Mo'Nique gets in this movie.  All of the supporting roles are great, and the script gives almost everyone a chance to be funny at some point during the movie.

The film tries way too hard to be random; even little touches like the excessive voiceover repetition of lines becomes annoying, piling onto the already-excessive amounts of overediting that "Domino" is guilty of punishing the audience with throughout the process.  And yes, the plot is slightly confusing, and this is where one begins to wonder what IS part of Domino's real-life story and what isn't.  But in general Christine, her friends and I all thought the film was solid while not being spectacular.

You get to see a shot of the real Domino at the end of the film, and then the film pays tribute to her memory, which led Christine to tell us that the real Domino is, in fact, recently deceased.  I certainly would love to know more about what made this attractive woman move from comfort to a constant adrenaline rush life full of nabbing the bad guys.  As it is, the somewhat fictional film version does the job for now.

Rating:  $9.50 Show

 

Comments?  Drop me a line at justin@bellviewmovies.com.

 

Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/bellviewmovies.com except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09