DOMINO. 2005
Director: Tony Scott

Director: Uncredited

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Domino Domino (2005) is a completely fictionalized biopic about Domino Harvey, daughter of actor Laurence Harvey who gave up the life of a fashion model to become a bounty hunter. Domino herself wrote the film's themesong, "Am I That Bad." And some of the incidental gangbangers encountered in the film were members of East L.A.'s 18th Street Gang.

She is played by Keira Knightley. Keira hardly looks physically strong enough to do any of this, but she has the same bravado in her performance as she brought to King Arthur (2004) when making the Guenivere an amazonian archer, cleaner & more wholesome than Domino by a longshot but still tough stuff for a slim terribly young actress to pull off.

Although as Domino she never actually wants to look gross, she's willing to get dirty in the role. It's a sexy dominatrix performance, & if nothing else about the film were any good, she'd make it worth watching.

Despite its A-list cast, or near enough to one, Domino is aggressively an exploitation flick with extreme violence, bad language, & poor lighting. There's nothing realistic about it but who cares. We don't really learn that much about the actual Domino who may have fantasized a life just this violent but this is totally exaggerated.

And we won't be informed that she was an addict & drug dealer who died of an overdose during house arrest awaiting her fate at the hands of the law, as this is a film by friends who adored that she played so wholeheartedly into what is usually only a male fantasy about gun-totin' ass-kickin' babes, & they romanticize that to a magnificently unrealistic height.

The reason Domino is a bounty hunter is because it's legal. She can be bad & vicious & not end up in jail, which is what matters. She likes hanging with a couple borderline psychos because they support her eagerness to do violence.

DominoShe goes on hunts with s.o.b. criminal-catcher Eddie Mosley, played by Mickey Rourke in what has become his trademark groddy ugly bastard antihero.

Rourke had refused to accept the role at first, until Tom Scott rewrote the character to be identical to a great many of his previous performances. He takes a cartoon approach to method-acting, probably intentionally clownish to match the occasionally satiric tone of the script, & is effectively, appropriately trashy.

The cool cast also includes Edgar Ramiriz as Choco, Domino's bestest buddy ever. He & Eddie are based on real people who were technical advisors on the film. Their names were changed along with most of the facts of Domino's career, in favor of a tall tale about a bounty gig that goes seriously wrong.

Lucy Liu plays a throw-away role as an FBI investigator trying to give Domino a hard time, which is kind of like the Top & Bottom trading places in some lesbian s/m dungeon, tacky & silly. Genevieve Bujold, who actually knew Domino's mother when both were young models, plays Domino's careless mother as an unappealing mess.

Christopher Walken, like Rourke, seems to have had his role tailored to fit past performances, contributing nothing new or novel but hey, it's Christopher Walken.

DominoI liked most of the cast & it had a couple of promising sequences even if, overall, it's a poorly made movie with only a few improvements over the lowest exploitation shlock.

That may sound like a negative review but it's not entirely so; shlock can be great stuff, & if this one's not great, it at least hits all the important notes & is acted more credibly than expected of shlock.

The creative team come off as a big vulgar comedy of self-conscious Tarantino wannabes. They can't manage it with any intelligence but they do deliver a good dose of shitkicking mondo trasho. The graphic removal of a man's arm is as good (or as bad) as it gets. An instruction over a cell phone to "remove the shirt from the right arm" gets interference so it sounds like "remove the right arm." Not knowing why on earth this would be necessary, they just do it.

The dvd has several extras, most of them trivial but fun. The one notable item is a twenty-minute documentary I Am a Bounty Hunter: Domino Harvey (2006) interviewing cast members & director, with bits with the real-life Domino as well. Her appearance, alas, had to be archive footage since by the time the documentary was made, she was dead.

It's a better documentary than one expects from hastily-made extras for action films. And Domino has an interview on the alternate soundtrack. One learns enough about her actual character to increase rather than undermine appreciation of the fictional version.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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