Domino Harvey (Keira Knightley), the daughter of matinee idol Lawrence Harvey and socialite Sophie Wynn (Jacqueline Bisset), yearning for the adrenaline of danger, leaves her life of privilege to become a bounty hunter. She talks her way into the A team, led by street-wise Ed Mosbey (Mickey Rourke), highly strung Latino Choco (Edgar Ramirez) and Alf (Rizwan Abbasi), an Afghani ex-pat obsessed with explosives. Television producer Mark Heiss (Christopher Walken) is keen to make them the stars of The Bail Squad, a new reality television show, but the team gets inadvertently caught up with the mob as well as with the financial woes of their employer, bail bondsman Claremont Williams III (Delroy Lindo).
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Real life always throws up the best stories, and Domino Harvey's unique lifestyle was (she died in June 2005) certainly good story material, with every element a writer could hope for. Tony Scott had known her for over a decade and was always going to use her exploits as inspiration for a movie, but it wasn't ever intended to be a biography. This turns out to be the original flaw in his thinking; by discarding the biographical construct, Scott's approach is restricted to the surface. Writer Richard Kelly, capable of great work (eg Donnie Darko) fell into the same trap and they concocted an action drama with all the potential at their fingertips.
And Domino is a pretty exciting film, true, but it somehow leaves you dissatisfied - that is, if you are prepared to undergo the visual treatment Scott dishes out. The notes to the film refer tell us that Scott sent producer Samuel Hadida Kelly's script, Scott's own latest BMW commercial and a ripomatic (an edited video trailer of sorts utilizing images and clips from past movies, commercials and television shows to suggest the proposed look for a project in the works, used more in the commercial world), he had put together so that Hadida could get a feel for the look and tone Scott envisioned for the film. It's easy to imagine what the ripomatic looked like - just like the film, only shorter.
The hyperactive visual style is borderline annoying at times, yet it also proves effective as a tonal reference for Domino's story. The film is relentless and energetic, using forward and flashback narrative, and despite the complexity of the story, it retains our interest. My one big reservation is the lack of depth to the characters. The cast is terrific: he could have asked for more.
Review by Louise Keller:
With lashings of style and substance to match, Domino fascinates as a story of rebellion. Based on a true story about the complex daughter of screen icon Lawrence Harvey, Domino believed that like flipping a coin, we all have a 50/50 chance at life and death. Director Tony Scott (Spy Game, Man on Fire) delivers a hard-hitting film that is stark in its action as well as its look of heightened reality. With its differing exposures, agitated camera angles and harsh editing techniques highlighted by tight close ups and a pummelling music score, Domino is dark and gritty, punctuated by tough language and violent action. The structure and look of the film is stunning, although confusing plotlines and characters deter towards the end. Some may complain that there is a tendency to glamorise the chosen life of a bounty hunter to this born-to-privilege beauty.
In the best role of her career, Keira Knightley excels as Domino, sporting a boyish haircut with long fringe through which defiant eyes are coated with thick, black mascara. 'I wanna have a little fun,' she says when she makes her conspicuous entrance at the bounty hunter recruitment seminar. Always a rebel, she has been training for this role since she was twelve years old. Fearless with an arrogant air, Domino teams up with Mickey Rourke's father-figure Ed and Edgar Ramirez as the sultry Choco from El Salvador, who often lapses into Spanish in a bid to keep himself isolated. The extraordinary cast includes Jacqueline Bisset as Domino's mother, Christopher Walken as the television producer who wants to make her into a star, Delroy Lindo as the bail bondsman and Lucy Liu as the probing police psychologist to whom Domino tells her story. Mo'Nique gives a scene stealing performance as the brash Lateesha, with the super-long painted nails and loosely wired tongue.
The power of the film rests in the amazing story and its first half. As it morphs into a road movie, when the bounty hunters allow their story to be filmed for a reality tv show, the constantly hand-held cameras and sharp edits become tedious and the plot confusing. The stark, barren of the desert adds plenty of atmos as the spectacular climax set at the 'Top of the World' restaurant of an ultra modern Las Vegas hotel, comes to a head. As a story, it's hard to top, and Scott injects much affection for his central character, with whom he had nurtured a relationship prior to her death at age 35.
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CAST: Keira Knightley, Mickey Rourke, Edgar Ramirez, Mo'Nique Imes-Jackson, Jacqueline Bisset, Christopher Walken, Mena Suvari, Delroy Lindo, Tom Waits, Lucy Liu, Macy Gray,
PRODUCER: Skip Chaisson, Samuel Hadida, Tony Scott
DIRECTOR: Tony Scott
SCRIPT: Richard Kelly
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Dan Mindel
EDITOR: Tony Ciccione, William Godlenberg, Christian Wagner
MUSIC: Harry Gregson-Williams
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Chris Seagers
RUNNING TIME: 122 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: UIP
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 1, 2005
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Paramount
VIDEO RELEASE: July 6, 2006
RIVERSIDE SNEAK PEEK PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 4 consecutive Tuesdays in February, following a FREE introductory screening on February 17, 2015 at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.