Reviewed by

Bud Carlson

I have long been a fan of heavy metal music. I mean real metal, like the kind of rip-your-face-off music of Pantera and Judas Priest, and not the semi-pop music that came out of the late 80’s from the likes of Poison and Warrant. I like to listen to this music not for its lyrical subtlety, and not for its musical intricacies … if you are listening for those things I’m afraid you are missing the point. I like to listen to heavy metal music for its 100-miles-an-hour guitar lines, for its driving bass lines, and for its in-your-face lyrics. I mean, if the guitarist from Iron Maiden misses a note, ain’t nobody gonna notice given the rest of the mayhem going on in that same part of the song.  While I can appreciate the precision and the nuance in other types of music (classical for example), there’s just no other feeling like driving 30 over the speed limit with Metallica thumping out of your car speakers. It makes me feel good, feel alive. I am talking about a guttural blast of debauchery and teen-spirit here, and if you don’t know what I’m talking about, then you should go read about a different movie, because alas, these are also the reasons why I liked the movie Domino.


Domino is a story based loosely on the life of Domino Harvey, the supermodel-turned-bounty hunter (who was also the daughter of actor Lawrence Harvey, of The Manchurian Candidate). “I’m Domino Harvey” says Keira Knightley repeatedly throughout the acid-trip-like film, which was written by Richard Kelly and directed by Tony Scott. The movie takes Domino Harvey’s life as a starting point, and from there, heads in every direction except the obvious one. In fact, the story goes in so many different ways, seemingly all at once, that it is occasionally hard to follow, but the images are so entertaining and rich that you don’t mind waiting for it all to become clear again. And the constant flow of action makes it worth the wait.

Interestingly, as we learn from hearing the writer’s and director’s commentary included in the special features of the Domino DVD, this movie was some 12 years in the making, with Richard Kelly’s screenplay being the third separate attempt to bring Domino Harvey’s personality and lifestyle to the big screen. Apparently, the first two attempted screenplays were too much like biographies or documentaries, and didn’t capture the excitement that Domino Harvey’s character warranted.


The role of Domino seems like it might be a stretch for the lovely Ms Knightley, but she pulls it off. She combines “tough” with “sexy”, and I didn’t have much trouble picturing her character as being one wrong-look away from shooting somebody. But the thing that was most interesting about the character was that she was just as willing to seduce you as she was to shoot you, whatever worked out best for her and her partners at the time.  So let’s talk about the partners for a sec: Mickey Rourke plays Ed Moseby, a resourceful tough-guy and mentor-to-Domino. Another terrific role for Rourke, who seems to have finally realized what he does best as an actor. Ed and Domino have a great dynamic together, and this probably represents the best relationship in the movie. The story plays-up a romance between Domino and Choco (played by Edgar Ramiraz), but that’s actually much less interesting.  The rest of the cast is star-studded as well, with Christopher Walken, Delroy Lindo, Mena Suvari, Mo’Nique, and even the dynamic duo of Ian Ziering and Brian Austin Green, among others. (I won’t even mention the Jerry Springer cameo!) Each one of them play an interesting character, all fun to watch in their own right. But for the most part, those characters sort of float around the periphery of the movie, providing laughs and memorable lines, while Ed, Choco and Domino keep the bounty-hunter action rolling.


As much as I had a good time watching Domino, I can’t deny that the movie is a bit of a jumbled mess, and I am concerned that the movie was “overly-written”. While a lot of the side-stories are fresh and entertaining to watch, they do pull the movie off-track. The movie is too long, largely due to the complexity of the story and the large number of characters who must be accounted for throughout the film, and all the back-and-forth between them kept the movie from coming together cohesively. For example, among the Special Features of the DVD are a small handful of deleted scenes, and watching those was actually quite a revelation. For every one of the scenes that were omitted, there were another five scenes very much like that one that were included in the movie; but those scenes could easily have been excluded as well, and not done much harm to the movie overall. That’s what I mean by “over-written”, the story is made too complex by including so many different characters, even as those characters are all worth seeing.


But in the context of what passes for action movies in Hollywood these days, Domino was better than most. The movie has its issues, but there are more than enough interesting moments to make for a decidedly favorable review. The movie delivers that same guttural blast of debauchery and teen-spirit, just as an old heavy metal song does. It’s just too bad that the writer and director weren’t able to tie everything together to make a good film even better.


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