Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

This movie ‘Devil’s Dominoes’, despite the obvious feel that it was inexpensively shot and featured mostly no name actors in its principle roles actually had some promise as it started out. Unfortunately all that promise went straight down the tubes as the movie wound down to a conclusion that was so out of tune with everything that had happened in the film up to that point, that it turned a movie that could have been low bud sleeper into just a run of the mill disappointment.

As our story goes, we meet all around good guy and family man Tom (Christopher Mur) as his car has in issue while driving down the road, and simply by chance his tow truck driver is an old friend from the neighborhood named Jimmy (Tom Bateman). It also so happens that this weekend Jimmy is heading out with a couple more old buddies from the ‘hood on an hunting trip in which he invites Tom to come along, who reluctantly agrees to go along for the ride.

So on the morning of the trip Tom jumps into the big blue Blazer of old friend Bob (Craig Degel) who is chauffeuring around our other two old friends and the fourth member of our crew Nick (Dan Waller), that one guy in the movies who should probably be shot the minute you see him because you know he’s nothing but trouble. So our foursome is off to do some Bambi slaughtering when to no one’s surprise, Nick starts causing trouble and decides to dick around with fat Bob who is trying to drive, while drinking a Bud, which causes Bob to crash into an oncoming car. Now their problems start in earnest become they’ve done killed the driver. Not only is the guy dead but he also happens to be the much beloved son of Big John Calabrese (Vincent Pastore), the biggest meanest mobster in all of Chicago.

So do our heroes call the police? No sir, for in what will be the first in a near legendary series of bad decisions, they decide to dispose of the car and the body. It also happens that the dead Calabrese has a trunk full of diamonds in his ride which results in another set of bad decisions, and then a state trooper show up which results in yet another terrible decision until eventually these bad decisions end up resulting in a virtual pile of dead bodies, and finally a brilliant plan in which a crew of poor decision making working stiffs attempt extort money from the nations meanest mobster, with not a lot of this ending up good for nobody. At least you would think.

Since his picture is on the box cover we must mention Daniel Baldwin who makes a glorified cameo as the local Sheriff where all this mayhem is taking place. Apparently his character is an expert tracker because as another character points out his mother was a full blooded Cherokee. Now I mean no disrespect to my Native American brothers and sisters out there but little did I know that simply being born of Native American woman automatically gave one the deep woods tracking gene. I mean I happen to be born of an African American woman and I’m a terrible basketball player. Okay so that’s not altogether true because I’m actually a pretty damn good basketball player. Truth be told my game is mad sick. I had to change my middle name to Mundane because of how I rain! As I meanderingly hopelessly digress my point is I don’t think that the fact my mom is Black had anything to do with any of that, but I could be wrong.

But back to ‘Devil’s Dominoes’, directed by Scott Prestin, which started out as a pretty decent crime thriller. Artistically speaking Prestin was able to make good use of some of the lighting he had available to create an ominous and tense atmosphere when necessary, and narratively speaking the story started out as a pretty good one. As our characters kept making bad decision after bad decision, the reasoning behind these bad decisions did make a little bit of sense in a warped kind of way and as such didn’t seem to come out of left field. There were other elements of the story that were pieced together quite nicely within the framework of the tale as it was told with even the title making sense as the dominoes were falling around our characters as if set up by Satan himself.

Though Vincent Pastore and Daniel Baldwin get top billing both actors, particularly Pastore, don’t really have much screen time so if you happen to be a big fan of either, this movie probably won’t satisfy your Pastore / Baldwin fix. That being said the actual stars of the film did do a decent job with actors Christopher Mur and Dan Waller faring the best.

Then it all falls apart in the end. This is probably a bit of a SPOILER but in what appeared to be an effort to fabricate some kind of happy ending, which was a virtual impossibility considering how the tale was unfolding, the story got completely ridiculous. Completely. Even before the incredibly contrived ending the story wasn’t exactly air tight, but I was more than willing to forgive the occasional plot hole until the unfortunate conclusion turned those pot holes into moon craters and features a litany of transgressions and open ended questions which I don’t possess the ability to defend or explain.

It’s too bad really because ‘Devil’s Dominoes’, despite its obvious budgetary constraints, had some potential. I love a happy ending as much as the next cat but the conclusion as it was constructed in ‘Devil’s Dominoes’ pretty much ruined what could have been a genuine sleeper of a good movie.

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