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DOMINO (R) (2005)

New Line Cinema

Official Site

Directors: Tony Scott

Producers: Tony Scott, Samuel Hadida

Written by: Richard Kelly, Steve Barancik

Cast: Keira Knightley, Mickey Rourke, Edgar Ramirez, Rizwan Abbasi, Ian Ziering, Brian Austin Green, Christopher Walker, Mena Suvari, Jacqueline Bisset, Lucy Liu, Delroy Lindo, Mo’Nique, Macy Gray


Domino is disappointing for what might have been. Based on the life of Domino Harvey, one would think the true story alone would have been ripe fodder for any director worth his or her mettle. But Tony Scott manages to somehow take gold and spin it back into straw.

The true stuff: Domino Harvey was born into British high society. Her father was Lawrence Harvey, whose many film credits included a role in the original The Manchurian Candidate with Frank Sinatra. Tragically Domino’s father died suddenly of a heart attack when she was just four years old. Her mother relocated the family to Los Angeles after remarrying Peter Horton, who would go on to found the Hard Rock Café restaurant chain.

Lucky girl. But Domino never seemed to fit into the lifestyle of privilege and wealth. She rejected the constraining atmosphere of private boarding schools and after a series of unsatisfying jobs she seemed to find her life’s calling: working as a bounty hunter for Celes King Bail Bonds. It was here she found excitement and danger—the one thing her safe, comfortable upbringing could never deliver. As if her day job weren’t enough, Domino moonlighted as a high-fashion runway model and struggled habitually with a wicked drug addiction.

This is not only true stuff, it’s good stuff… lots of potential to explore—the psychological underpinnings of a woman addicted to living on the edge. Instead Scott abandons all this and focuses on high-speed action, blazing guns, and worse, a Mickey Mouse feel-good ending. Though Scott’s had some experience with big Hollywood hits (notably the action flicks Top Gun, Days Of Thunder, and The Last Boy Scout) Domino has all the substance of an MTV video. The tinted lenses and rapid-fire action sequences leave what could have been some interesting character development in the dust.

Every shot Scott has at creating a meaningful film is squandered. Though Domino’s father’s death is peripherally touched upon, we only get a feel for her loss by watching as Domino resolves never to grow too attached to any one or thing again. She says this as she symbolically flushes her dead goldfish down the toilet. An exploration of her relationship with her sidekick bounty hunters, Ed and Choco (Rourke and Ramirez), is also side-stepped in favor of condensed voice-over narration. Domino Harvey died earlier this year of a drug overdose, but claiming he wanted to keep it upbeat, Scott neglects to mention this and simply dedicates his film to her memory before the credits role. Once again a meaningful biopic is sabotaged in favor of superficial glitz.

The one bright spot is the mesmerizing performance of Keira Knightley. A gun-toting woman tarted up in raccoon eye make-up and patent leather pants who saves the film can’t be all bad. It’s the one thing that separates this from other Hollywood forgettables, meriting this film two stars.

—Nancy Semin

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

Itís worth a full-price ticket.

Itís worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...

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