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Domino: The Review

Director: Tony Scott

Cast: Keira Knightley, Mickey Rourke, Edgar Ramirez, Delroy Lindo, Mo’Nique, Mena Suvari with Lucy Liu and Christopher Walken

Plot: An armoured truck is attacked and robbed by a group of bounty hunters. A criminal psychologist Mills (Liu) is charged with getting a confession from the sole surviving suspect, Domino (Knightley).

As controversial as this following statement is going to sound, I have never been a massive fan of Tony Scott. I much prefer the methodical, story-centric style of Ridley Scott, while Tony prefers style over substance, hitting us with fast-paced editing and flashy montages. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

Truth be told, Domino is the wrong kind of story for Tony Scott to sink his teeth into. Domino tells the true story (albeit an exaggerated and not entirely truthful one), of the daughter of Laurence Harvey, a stage actor, who went from being a fashion model to taking up arms as one of the most notorious bounty hunters around. As far as biopics go, this is a fairly meaty story, taking this bored girl from a glamorous background and seeing that person make a mental decision to get as far from that lifestyle as she possibly can. One of Tony Scott’s best successes with this film is casting Keira Knightley as the lead. Keira has never been this good, and this is the kind of movie we should see her tackle more often. The good-girl-gone-bad figure could be a description of both character and actress. Keira owns the role with every scene, whether she is use her seductive charms to get her way out of a gunfight, or angrily chastising one of her enemies, family members or co-workers. While Pirates of the Caribbean sees Knightley play with the idea of the action genre, Domino sees her dive head-first into the idea, embracing it completely.

But Tony Scott’s direction begins to unravel at the fact that Domino is much more than an action movie. In fact, there is rarely any fighting or killing in it. This story should, first and foremost, be a character piece focused on Domino and the bounty hunter world; the action in this script acts as a pay-off to those wanting more than a biopic. However, Scott’s extreme directional style gets bored, thus the director wades into proceedings and begins editing and chopping at the footage. We start with the ending, liven up the slower beats with montages and, at times, treat the movie as if it was a music video for a metal band. I never connected to any of the characters, even Domino, who I liked, but never understood. Mickey Rourke’s character alluded cool, but never became a person in his own right, because all Scott asks of him is to look awesome. There is nothing substantial here, even when the script tries to dissect the satirical behind-the-scenes of reality TV. Over-direction brings the entire movie crashing down on its own head.

But maybe the most frustrating thing here is that I learnt nothing about bounty hunters. I am probably not alone in my first experience with the word being in the form of a certain armoured fellow, carrying a carbonite Han Solo in his spaceship’s boot. For me, I picked up Domino to learn what a bounty hunter actually does. Tony Scott strips away most of the factual elements and just has fun with the idea. I get that bounty hunting is probably a dull affair, compared to the explosive version nestled in my imagination, but Scott doesn’t take the concept seriously himself. I am pretty sure Dog the Bounty Hunter never resorted to lap-dancing to get out of a sticky situation (lap-dancing is usually how I get into sticky sit… OK, too far?). While the bounty hunters look the part, I came away from the film, learning nothing. That disappointed me more than anything.

Final Verdict: A serious case of style over substance. Domino is an interesting story, but this movie is definitely in the wrong hands.

Two Stars