*1/2 (out of 5)
October 14, 2005
Keira Knightley as DOMINO HARVEY
Mickey Rourke as ED
Edgar Ramirez as CHOCO
Lucy Liu as TARYN MILES
Mena Suvari as KIMMIE
Christopher Walken as MARK HEISS
Studio: New Line Cinema
Directed by: Tony Scott
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
Some directors, like Kevin Smith, don’t have a lot of style. Their shots are relatively static, and there’s not a lot of stuff happening, from a cinematography standpoint.
Other directors, like Michael Bay and the army of commercial and music video refugees that are currently flooding Hollywood, rarely lock off a shot and fill their movies with an MTV style.
Both schools of thought can be effective. Just because a director does or does not have style doesn’t impact the quality of their films. However, often style is used as a substitute or a cloak for a lack of substance. This is because style isn’t hard to achieve nowadays. In fact, an editor can make add the style into the film long after the footage was shot.
Tony Scott has been known for his style. In his early “Top Gun” days, he set the bar for action scenes. Recently, though, his work has become more and more stylized. However, even with a highly stylized film like “Man on Fire,” Scott has usually had a decent story lurking below to support his film.
Sadly, this isn’t the case with his latest effort, “Domino.” I don’t mind some Tony Scott flash, and I understand the perceived need to compete with music videos and short-attention-span television programming. However, when the movie is nothing but flash, there’s a problem.
The film itself is cut like a trailer. All of it is cut like a trailer. It works for two minutes, but watching this kind of presentation for more than an hour can put you into an epileptic fit. Seriously, it makes Michael Bay’s work look like the director’s cut of “2001: A Space Odyssey.”
I saw a comment online (in regards to a different film, incidentally) that chided the critics of the “Based on a true story” or “Inspired by a true story” moniker. This online poster basically said that we should lighten up because they aren’t doing a documentary.
However, I reject this attitude. Obviously, it means something to claim a film is based on or inspired by a true story. Otherwise, why is Hollywood so eager to put the words on the screen? However, if you are going to claim this, there should be some attempt to be accurate. It’s like when Disney made their film “Pocahontas.” The history was so flawed and skewed that it was hardly even close to the original story. They should have just named that film “Native Princess” and let it be the fiction that it was.
“Domino” is so preposterous that it’s hard to believe that any of it is true, except for the name of the lead character. It felt like kids on a playground making up a story as they went along. And to make things even more insulting, the film mocks anyone trying to distill the truth from the story. It basically says to go to hell, which is not exactly the way to win over an audience.
The biggest problem with the plot is that it doesn’t know what it’s doing. The seemingly clever twists and turns end up cheating the audience, and it manages to hop along bunny trails that have nothing to do with the rest of the film, including an excerpt from a Jerry Springer episode and scenes that poke fun at “Beverly Hills 90210” alum Ian Ziering and Brian Austin Green. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t have done any good to edit those superfluous scenes out because they’re actually the most entertaining in the entire film.
The real victims of this film are the actors. Most of them are really good at their jobs, including some decent performances by Christopher Walken, Delroy Lindo and Mickey Rourke. However, they get lost in all the whip-pans and jump cuts.
The only actor who is given her due is Keira Knightly. However, she just isn’t believable as a bad-ass. In fact, she’s not even sexy as you might think. With her short-cropped hair and tiny frame, she might be more appealing to Michael Jackson than the standard red-blooded American male.