2005, R, 133 min. Directed by Tony Scott. Starring Keira Knightley, Mickey Rourke, Edgar Ramirez, Rizwan Abbasi, Delroy Lindo, Mo’Nique, Lucy Liu, Mena Suvari, Christopher Walken, Jacqueline Bisset, Brian Austin Green, Ian Ziering, Dabney Coleman, Macy Gray.

REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., Oct. 14, 2005

Attention-deficit filmmaking reaches a new pinnacle in Domino, Tony Scott’s heavily fictionalized account of the life of bounty hunter Domino Harvey, the daughter of actor Laurence Harvey. Scott manipulates his imagery with so many jumpy edits, color-enhanced (especially green) film stocks, and jagged compositions that the film story becomes captive to its own hyperkineticism. Viewers (both inured and addicted to the sensory bombardment) gradually grow less concerned with what happens in Domino than in how it looks, and, to paraphrase McLuhan, the look eventually becomes the message – which is really not such a bad thing when you have foxy Knightley posing as such an iconically irresistible bad thing. Let’s forget about pesky questions like how Knightley’s Domino can see well enough to aim her shotgun straight with all those bangs wisping over her eyes, or how hardly a scene goes by without a cigarette dangling between Domino’s full lips or slender fingers while absolutely no mention is ever made of the real Domino’s illegal drug habits (no small aspect of her life, we may assume, since she died of a drug overdose just this past summer). Scott, the director of a long list of testosterone-fueled pictures (Top Gun, Days of Thunder, Crimson Tide) is clearly interested with this film in the idea of a fearless female badass, a woman who was named bounty hunter of the year by her trade association in 2003 and can hold her own with any man. Knightley rises to the occasion and makes for an appealing fetish object. But what the film (with a script by Donnie Darko’s writer-director Richard Kelly) neglects is the creation of a character. In the story of Harvey there resides an evolutionary tale about a child of privilege who turns her back on those opportunities and can only get a rise from guns, danger, and other thrill-seeking behaviors. It’s also a story about a girl who, though endowed with the beauty to become a Ford model, rejects that life and adopts a more androgynous appearance, complete with shaved head Harvey’s libido toward her two male cohorts instead of the more nonheterosexual slant the real woman’s taste reputedly leaned toward. Some of these elements are present here in small doses, but the film really cares little about what makes this character tick. Not when we can see her kick in doors, punch in a sorority sister’s face, or perform a strategic lap dance for an East L.A. thug. Domino’s tough-as-nails demeanor might make a better sale if her softer side weren’t portrayed with the corny recurring motif of a child’s dead goldfish. Most of Domino’s story is related in flashback, as she unravels the sequence of events in a complicated caper gone terribly wrong. The fine cast offers a who’s who of indelible performances (most original are the turns by Brian Austin Green and Ian Ziering as themselves in a reality show based on the bounty hunters), and despite the visual commotion Scott is a quite able (and bloody violent) director of action. But by the time Tom Waits shows up spouting twisted gospel quotations during a desert mescaline episode, there’s nowhere for this movie to head but downhill. The reality-show producer played by Walken is described by his assistant (Suvari) as having the attention span of a "ferret on speed." I’m sure he would love Domino.

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Domino, Tony Scott, Keira Knightley, Mickey Rourke, Edgar Ramirez, Rizwan Abbasi, Delroy Lindo, Mo’Nique, Lucy Liu, Mena Suvari, Christopher Walken, Jacqueline Bisset, Brian Austin Green, Ian Ziering, Dabney Coleman, Macy Gray

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