Movies » Movie Reviews

If 2 Live Crew has taught us anything...


It was, I'm sorry to say, a consensus. The guys in my row all agreed that the only reason they didn't abandon the screening of the new Keira Knightley action flick Domino was the possibility that breasts might suddenly manifest on the screen. Apparently, a little skin can go a long way. And since patience remains a virtue, these gentlemen were rewarded. No such luck for me, however, as all I saw was a frustratingly stupid movie.

If you've heard the tale of Domino Harvey, then this mini dossier is not for you: Daughter of actor Laurence Harvey (Frankheimer's The Manchurian Candidate) and a '60s fashion model, Domino rebelled against her life of privilege --- and a modeling career of her own --- to become a gun-toting LA bounty hunter. Throw in a little bisexuality and drug abuse, and it's only a matter of time before Hollywood options you.

Director Tony Scott (Man on Fire) read about Domino's exploits in a UK tabloid and has been working for the last 10 years to bring her story to the screen. Sadly, however, Domino Harvey died from an accidental painkiller overdose this past June at the age of 35. (And in true Tinseltown fashion, the studio tried to move Domino's release date up to August just after her death. Gives you the warm fuzzies, doesn't it?) But if you're expecting a respectful retelling of a life that doesn't seem to need any dramatic embellishment, then you should probably go rent Ray again.

Domino's story unfolds over the course of an interrogation stemming from a heist gone wrong. Through flashbacks we learn how Domino --- a cool name, incidentally, but tantamount to calling a child "Jenga" or "Gnip-Gnop" --- met mentor-father figure Ed (saddle-faced Mickey Rourke) and got her start in the bounty hunting business. Along with third musketeer Choco (Edgar Ramirez), Ed and Domino strike fear into the hearts of bail jumpers using various crime busting devices like automatic weapons, battering rams, and lap dances.

Calling the film Domino might actually be misleading, since the planning, execution, and aftermath of the aforementioned theft is at the heart of this movie. Claremont (Delroy Lindo), the bail bondsman who supplies Domino's crew with their work, needs money for his sick granddaughter, so he orchestrates the liberation of $10 million from a shady casino owner (Dabney Coleman!?) via his armored truck business. Remember, kids: Thievery and murder are always OK when a child needs an operation.

Meanwhile, a reality TV honcho (Christopher Walken, doing his best Christopher Walken impression) convinces Domino to let cameras follow her around for a show called "Bounty Squad," hosted by former 90210-ers (and awfully good sports) Brian Austin Green and Ian Ziering. Naturally, once all of these threads intertwine, the guts spatter, the body count skyrockets, and lots of stuff explodes.

But what else would you expect from the man who made testostero-fests like Top Gun, Crimson Tide, and True Romance? Scott, as usual, trades substance for flash, and he shoots Domino like a jittery music video, complete with handheld camera work, nervous editing, and bleeding emulsions, making it difficult to suss out what's happening and when. Then the headache sets in.

I truly believe that if the real Domino had lived to see Knightley's portrayal of movie Domino as such an appalling brat, she would never stop stabbing her. There were undoubtedly valid reasons behind Domino's choices, but we'll never know since Scott neglects to explore what made Domino gravitate towards such a dangerous life. That's not to say that Domino should have been an intense character study --- everyone loves mindless escapism when it's done right --- but movie Domino elicits no audience empathy herself.

And the rest of Domino's cast is wasted as well, with the women inhabiting particularly thankless and tired roles: Lucy Liu as an FBI agent, Mena Suvari as a secretary, Jacqueline Bisset as Domino's mom, and Mo'Nique as the youngest grandma ever. Gonzalez's Choco mostly broods and fondles his gun while gazing longingly at Domino, but he's complete eye candy, and the camera takes the time to do some leisurely, equal-opportunity ogling of his marble torso. Only the wily Rourke emerges unscathed, having finally found a niche among today's actors.

So on the off chance I haven't been able to steer you away from Domino, I'll let our heroine do the honors: "If you're wondering what's true and what isn't, you can fuck off, because it's none of your goddamn business."

You heard the lady. Give Wallace and Gromit your money instead. Not only are they infinitely more worthy, Gromit is almost always naked.

Domino (R), directed by Tony Scott, is playing at Canandaigua Theatres, Henrietta 18, and Tinseltown.