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October 18, 2005 > Domino


Directed by Tony Scott

by Jeremy Inman

Imagine a Los Angeles model, the daughter of a now-deceased former Academy Award-nominated actor living a cozy life with her mother - that is, going to private school, to college, joining a sorority; but, imagine that this model is unsatisfied, unfulfilled, and even bored with her life. Now, imagine that to cure this boredom (and to satiate her desire for destructive action), she decides to become a bounty hunter. And if that's not crazy enough, imagine that the story is true... sort of.

That's right, visionary action director Tony Scott brings the semi-accurate retelling of the life of famous real life bounty hunter Domino Harvey to visceral fruition in the action flick Domino. Tony Scott is no stranger to action movies, and his ever-evolving sense of style lends Domino a unique and extremely frenetic visual flare reminiscent of his work on Man on Fire. Unfortunately for Scott and his fans, Scott's style, which combines excessive (but precise) amounts of editing, onscreen text and heavy filtering, lent itself much better to Man on Fire than to Domino. This isn't to say that Domino doesn't hit the mark as a high-energy action movie, but Man on Fire had a much tighter narrative structure.

Domino starts off at a reasonable pace but finds itself in a bit of a tangle somewhere near the middle of the film. Scott has a tendency to take on films with convoluted plots and then reveal the story from the perspective of one of the smaller cogs in the bigger machine - in this case Domino and her team of fellow bounty hunters. As a result, the audience won't have any trouble understanding the basic situation, but the particulars become hard to follow as a result of an excessive amount of unnecessary side characters and plot twists. To its credit, however, the movie goes to great lengths to clarify the confusing situations by highlighting the relationships between important characters following a particularly confusing situation.

Minor narrative issues aside, Domino hits the mark as a big action piece. Scott has a knack for action, with a resume including classics like Top Gun, True Romance, and the recent Man on Fire, and Domino is no exception. The action is unique and always entertaining, despite being a little gruesome at times (specifically, where one of the characters' arms is intentionally removed with a shotgun). All of the main characters are played with intensity and grit, especially Keira Knightley in the title role and Micky Rourke as her mentor Ed.

Like the plot, a few things don't fit - some of the extra characters and an unnecessary sex scene - but most of the movie is about great action and a surprisingly successful amount of humor. Scott's style is often criticized as resembling a music video, because he tends to blend hyper-stylized editing with very precise sound editing, lending his movies a slick and always interesting visual flare unique in his profession. While not as tight plot-wise as many of his previous films, Domino should still please action fans and Scott aficionados alike with its interesting blend of true life grit and realism, explosive action, and sharp humor.

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