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Domino (1/10)

by Tony Medley

“There are three types of people in this world, “ says Domino Harvey (Keira Knightley. “The rich, the poor, and everyone in between.” This comes during the first quarter of this 125-minute film, after some graphic brutality. The line is terminally banal. One would like to believe that it’s intended as profound, funny, sarcastic, or as a comment on the low level of Domino’s intellect. Instead it’s uttered seriously and epitomizes the low level of the rest of the film.

This is a difficult film to watch, and not just because it’s violent and full of foul language. Worse than the violence and the language is the cinematography (Dan Mindel). To be fair, a Director of Photography on films directed by Tony Scott is little more than an administrator. Scott is in total control of the cinematography and the editing. Here Scott delights in quick cuts and super close-ups and cameras circling subjects as they speak. It’s not just disconcerting, it’s downright annoying. But maybe Scott had to do something to take the audience’s mind off of the dialogue and the story, which certainly don’t remotely justify a movie that exceeds two hours.

Loosely based on Domino Harvey, the daughter of actor Lawrence Harvey (“Manchurian Candidate” and many others), Domino is a sociopathic loser, a terrible disappointment to her mother, Sophie Wynn (Jacqueline Bisset). Incidentally, speaking of Bisset, she is listed as one of the named stars, along with Dabney Coleman. But don’t blink or you’ll miss both of them. Christopher Walken is also listed, but he at least has a role that required him to be on the set for more than one day, although probably not more than two. No, this is Keira Knightley’s movie, along with Mickey Rourke and Edgar Ramirez, who play Knightley’s compatriot bounty hunters. If they’re smart they’ll leave it off their resumes. But, then, if they were smart they wouldn’t have signed on in the first place.

The only positive thing came from my guest. She said she fell in love with Ramirez’s body. I’m happy to say I missed that.

The story, which starts with the bounty hunters throwing the left arm of one of their captives at his mother so she can get a safe combination off of it, is convoluted and disjointed. Even so, the cinematography is so jumpy that the story becomes second place. There are some shocking scenes of violence, but by that time the film has become so over the top that there is an almost total lack of tension.

October 5, 2005