STUDIO: New Line
MSRP: $27.97
RUNNING TIME: 127 min.
Deleted Scenes

A recurring theme in Domino is the titular bounty hunter’s reliance on a coin flip in determining fate. Which is strangely fitting, since Domino ends up being approximately half a decent movie. Heads, you get petite stunner Keira Knightley whirling nunchucks and kicking arse. Tails, you lose.

The Flick

As Domino begins (with a nifty opening credit sequence that feels like it was yanked from Vega$ or some other 70s crime series), we’re introduced to Domino Harvey (Keira Knightley) through a now-familiar framing device. Our ostensible heroine (based on the daughter of The Manchurian Candidate actor Laurence Harvey) is in federal custody, slyly dodging a bombardment of questions from an unamused agent (Lucy Liu) concerning recent events.

From there the bouncing narrative takes us into Domino’s past, giving a quick history of her posh upbringing, rebellious youth and eventual employment by veteran bounty hunter Ed Moseby (Mickey Rourke), who learns the value of having a sassy lass on his crew when she defuses a potentially volatile situation by offering a lap dance (cue the stunt ass!) to a gun-wielding informant. But while Domino lives for the excitement, the job has its hazards and complications – she’s unwittingly captured el corazón of partner Choco (Edgar Ramirez), a reality series (created by TV honcho Christopher Walken) is recording their every move, and “legendary bail bondsman” Claremont Williams III (Delroy Lindo) has inadvertently entangled her in a scheme that lands them all on the wrong side of some Vegas gangsters.

"Look, I’m tryin’ ta concentrate on the job, here. Can you please stop talking about Double Team?"

As you might expect by now from director Tony Scott (Top Gun, The Last Boy Scout, Enemy of the State), Domino is strictly an exercise in spectacle. Scott’s nauseatingly kinetic postmodern jitter-jam works a bit better with this material than his last film Man on Fire, all lurching speeds and hallucinatory imagery (mmm, peyote coffee) and words flying all over the screen. But the harshly saturated look unfortunately isn’t terribly flattering to his delectable young star, and Scott still needs to learn how to edit at least a half hour out of his movies.

Alas, all the pomp and flash is overcompensating for a slight story — Scott’s staccato style would perhaps be better served by something with a different scope. While never completely lackluster (thanks to the constant visual onslaught), the script from Donnie Darko mastermind Richard Kelly just isn’t particularly captivating or elaborate, more like an extended episode of (ironically) some extreme TV crime-drama. It also feels gimmicky and surprisingly dated — a character pointlessly going on Jerry Springer’s show, tongue-in-cheek appearances by washed-out “celebrities” (90210’s Ian Ziering and Brian Austin Green in this case) and the whole tired satire of reality shows just makes Domino feel late to the party (further illustrated by the now-extinct WB network producing the fictional TV series). Humanity also desperately needs a moratorium on the character of Sassy Black Chick — there’s not just one, but three of these garish, abhorrent stereotypes in Domino, and what’s even worse is that they’re integral to the story (Mo’Nique’s daughter is sick and needs an expensive operation! Domino is sympathetic! Pretty much everyone else suffers!).

As she watched the credits roll on Revenge of the Sith, Keira let out a single tear of joyful relief for having appeared in only one prequel.

With her lithe frame and considerable attitude, Knightley is sufficiently convincing as the hardcore bounty hunter in it just for literal kicks, Rourke can do the grizzled pro in his sleep (though Domino’s relentless cacophony would never allow it), Ramirez displays a nice balance of heart and brawn, and the script at least occasionally gives them some sharp dialogue to spit. But to me the film’s biggest misstep is that, despite the rather insistent advertising campaign, there’s not a lot of actual bounty hunting in the movie – the story essentially shifts right from Domino’s initiation into the profession to her discovery as a TV sensation and her boss’ convoluted Vegas con, completely omitting her formative years on the job which to me would make for a far more compelling story (regardless of whether it’s a false chronicle of a real-life person).

Still, people are shot, things explode, and punches are delivered along with eye seizures even as the film’s spastic sense of urgency is incongruously absent from the story itself. If Scott can marry his increasingly experimental style to the right material, he’ll have a genuinely enthralling film, but Domino is mostly just a frustrating distraction.

6.0 out of 10

Not only does he do whatever the fuck he wants with punctuation, Christopher Walken shatters laws of quantum physics and makes his dialogue manifest in space.

The Look

While it looks too dark and rich to me, the transfer seems to be representative of whatever abstract hyper-reality Scott was visiting, and is clear enough despite the deliberate grit.

8.0 out of 10

The Noise

This is the sort of movie that DTS was made for, and heads, you win. The audio is fat with phat rumbling hip-hop and the din of carefully crafted chaos.

9.0 out of 10

The Goodies

First up are two commentary tracks, which curiously aren’t even mentioned on the DVD package, which is a shame since the track with Scott and Kelly is really interesting (one caveat, however, is that the two were recorded separately and edited together, a practice I despise). The second track is as excessively busy as the film itself, consisting of recordings made during story development meetings with Kelly, Scott, Zach Schiff-Abrams and desert drifter Tom Waits.

Unexpected bonus: Rourke’s impression of Don Stroud

Seven deleted scenes (with alternate commentary) give different or longer looks at sections of the finished film, including a counseling session and the drug-induced lovemaking session between Choco and Domino (nipple alert!). If there wasn’t enough in the movie itself, “Bounty Hunting on Acid” gives another 10 minutes of Scott’s frenzied self-indulgence, but from the technical side of things — even the cinematographer seems flustered and admits he has no idea how the film will turn out. The 20-minute featurette "I Am a Bounty Hunter: Domino Harvey’s Life” is the real cherry here – in addition to the standard behind-the-scenes material, it offers a glimpse at the actual life of the late Domino Harvey and features interview snippets and on-set antics of the film’s fascinating subject.

7.0 out of 10

The Artwork

The lovely Keira is up front where she should be, while her employer and coworker await behind her. Unfortunately all those firearms denote more exciting gunplay than the film delivers, but the sepia tone is accurate.

7.0 out of 10

Overall: 6.0 out of 10