Hi, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab...
I’ve heard such split things about this film. I know people who adored it, and I know people who could barely stomach it. One friend of mine called it “barely releasable,” while others seem to really groove on what Tony Scott did visually. I’m hoping I see it tomorrow night so I can weigh in, but for now, here’s MiraJeff with a review that seems like it was tough for him to write...
Greetings AICN, MiraJeff here, bearing some very sad, terribly disappointing news.
Contrary to Lord Harry’s glowing review, it seems that Domino is a serious misfire. Before I begin this scathing indictment, let me spare my idol, my boy, Richard Kelly, from my crosshairs. From what I have been told, his script for Domino was a visceral experience all on its own. An experience that both merited and warranted Tony Scott’s unique visual style. The script, from what I have been told, was bursting with juicy dialogue and breakneck energy, mostly created from the loins of its colorful, hardcore characters.
Now like I said, I haven’t read Kelly’s script but judging from the film it turned into, it couldn’t have been as good as his scripts for Donnie Darko and Southland Tales. I had the opportunity to visit the set of Southland Tales while I was interning in Los Angeles this summer. Needless to say, filming got pushed back until 2 days after I left sunny California, which amounted to no meeting Richard. No going on a film set. Zip. Nada. But then, two weeks ago, I got drunk dialed by Richard Kelly. From Seann William Scott’s birthday, no less. My friend and former boss Luke Greenfield arranged the call, coming through on his promise to put me in touch with Richard. It was four in the morning on the East Coast, but based on the one minute I spent barely understanding him (it is loud at Seann William Scott’s birthday parties), I could tell that Richard Kelly was a very nice, very cool guy. Again, no explanation necessary because he made fucking Donnie Darko! One minute out of the guy’s time pretty much made my month.
It’s true that Kelly is a young filmmaker with a lot to learn, but he’s clearly a special talent. A genius, if you will. But Kelly’s smartest move of all may have been to keep Southland Tales to himself. And not hand a great script over to Tony Scott.
Because if Domino is any indication, he will ruin it. Pretty much single-handedly. Kelly is one of film’s most innovative, freshest directors. Tony Scott used to be. Kelly has been defined by the success of Donnie Darko, and I have a feeling he’s ready to be prove it was no fluke. After Southland Tales, you will see Kelly is no one-hit wonder. But for now, he does only have one hit, though the abomination that is Domino is hardly his fault. Domino was one of my most highly anticipated films of the year. If it’s also one of yours, please don’t let this review deter you from theaters. This was a movie that I was crying out for me to love it. Its target audience is literally, the male college student with a biological obligation to see anything with Keira Knightley or Mickey Rourke. The chick’s either gotta be hot, or the dude’s gotta be able to kick ass. Check and check. I mean, I even consider myself a huge Tony Scott fan. Hell, I even loved The Fan. From Crimson Tide to True Romance to Enemy of the State, he’s been the Man on Fire, pun intended.
But Domino… this was a joke from its incredibly retarded opening credit sequence, which looks like a rap music video. I turned to the friend I saw the film with and we just stared at each other, totally confused. Domino is not the rock fever dream Kelly supposedly envisioned it as. It has more in common with the crap on MTV. I mean, some of Scott’s decision making is baffling. Case in point: The end credit sequence, which is even more absurd than the opening titles. Here, Scott rolls out each character’s picture, followed by their first names. Like, cut to Christopher Walken doing his shtick. Freeze. Christopher. What the fuck is that? Which brings me to… Cut. Freeze. Keira.
I don’t buy into the whole Keira Knightley thing. There are several celebrities who fall into this category, of media darlings that I just can’t stand. The other names on this list include Scarlett Johansson and Jennifer Garner. Who are these people? What’s their deal? Why are these people famous? Maybe I’m ignorant, but I don’t get it. Discuss it in the TalkBacks. Seriously, she did King Arthur. Not to mention Pirates of the Caribbean, a competently mediocre movie that hardly deserved a sequel, let alone two shot back-to-back. Gore Verbinski should concentrate on making more films like The Weatherman, not Disney theme park sequels. I really thought this would be the movie where Keira clicked for me. Alas, no. King I didn’t understand why Domino was so angry? What made her that way? When Keira does her impression of a bad-girl, i.e. giving a lap dance (wearing underwear) to a gangbanger, the scene was completely ridiculous. If that guy and the rest of his gang were actually the bad motherfuckers they allegedly were (which is why Domino the bounty hunter was after them in the first place), they would’ve raped Domino before the killed here and her two cool friends. I mean, imagine what happens immediately after that lap dance. Does she put her clothes back on and go “that was a close one, Ed!”
Domino is that kind of head-scratcher of a movie. The entire film is framed by Domino talking to the Feds (Lucy Liu) about a botched robbery. But there’s a catch. Our narrator’s memory is unreliable because she’s on mescaline. Well there’s a weak, uninspired device if I’ve ever heard one. Scott and Kelly love using this against us, manipulating the audience to thinking one thing, so they can so cleverly pull the rug out from under us later. In one hand, Scott says here, these characters die and this happens. But in the other hand, he says actually those characters didn’t die, and this didn’t happen, that did. This movie pissed me off to no end with bullshit moves like that.
My rant aside, there are a few things to like about Domino. For starters, the supporting cast. I agree with Harry and everyone else in the world who loves that Mickey Rourke is back on the big screen where his macho attitude and jailhouse mug belong. I was also impressed with newcomer Edgar Ramirez, who is an intriguing find who I’m sure will find better material once his career takes off. When the two of them go face to face after Domino rejects Choco, it’s a great scene. Perhaps the best in the movie. There’s stiff competition in watching Choco blow off a guy’s arm with a shotgun. The reality show that points its cameras on Domino and the gang is a relentlessly stupid idea. It’s a prime example of Kelly overwriting, when he should’ve focused on keeping it simple. I would’ve liked to have seen more of Domino and Choco’s romance, but because of the reality show set, that relationship is reduced to a stereotypical Hollywood sex scene. Did New Line brass actually like that reality show idea? That shit never happened to the real Domino Harvey, who never would’ve signed on to such garbage. However, it’s because of that reality show crap that we get two great performances from 90210 alums Brian Austin Green and Ian Ziering, doing a riff on themselves. The pair completely redeems itself by having the balls to laugh at themselves in a big Hollywood movie. And yes Harry was right, their reactions after being released from their roles as celebrity hostages are priceless. Good stuff. The same can’t be said for Christopher Walken, who is dangerously close to become a self-parody, on par with Al Pacino. Walken plays a TV producer and though he’s underused, he feels woefully out of place. Delroy Lindo does solid work, as does Mo’Nique, who surprised me with her acting chops and comic timing. Mena Suvari, Jacqueline Bisset, and Dabney Coleman all have roles too small worth mentioning, while the real Domino Harvey cameos at the end. The film is, after all, dedicated to her memory.
It’s a shame then that this tribute to an extraordinary individual is, sorry to say, ordinary. Its biggest problem is that we can never see what the hell is going on. Every image Scott uses is toyed or tinkered with. Sped up or slowed down. Every shot is washed out colors, grainy images, or littered with those stupid flashes of light in the background, that would pose a problem to people with epilepsy. Tony Scott needs to just chill out for a little bit. Calm down. Take some Ritalin. Or a Xanax. And call his brother in the morning or something. Domino is so hyper-stylized it makes Oliver Stone look like Gus Van Sant. The other problem is that the film lacks a heart. It’s all sizzle and no steak. What’s the story really about? Three misunderstood misfits who join forces to eliminate the bad guys of the world? Why did Domino want to be a bounty hunter so badly? And why should we root for them? At no point in the film did Domino, Ed, or Choco feel like a hero.
In Harry’s review, he called Domino a Keira Knightley exploitation flick. I beg to differ. It’s we, the audience, who are being exploited. Domino is a total hoodwink. You might even walk out of the theater saying positive things, but let it sit for a while. You won’t remember it. It is an utterly forgettable film experience. A movie that could’ve been so much more, if Scott had paid attention to the old saying, “less is more.”
Guys, Harry’s opinion means a lot to me. He’s honestly the first critic I wanna hear from when reading up on a movie. Just because I write for the site doesn’t mean you should take that lightly. But on this one, he’s way off. Domino fails on nearly every level. Not even Donnie Darko himself could pick up this fallen Domino.