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‘Domino’ Movie Review: Acid trip with a Bounty Hunter

Keira Knightley is the socialite-turned-bounty hunter Domino Harvey in this Tony Scott movie.

The life experiences of Domino Harvey taught her not to invest too much emotion on any certain thing — but she couldn’t get away with it. Similarly, director Tony Scott seems to have invested too much in creating visual flair for “Domino,” making it too loud and exaggerated beyond measure.

Oozing with tomboy spunkiness, Keira Knightley plays the character of the late Domino Harvey, the daughter of British actor Laurence Harvey. She turned away opportunities for a glamorous career in the limelight to become a bounty hunter.

The movie revolves around the story of this model-turned-fighter and her group’s most recent raid involving $10 million of stolen money. It is overloaded with cutting-edge visuals and stylistic intentions: hand-cranked cameras, jittery zooms, and epileptic editing that render both good and bad points.

Domino“ is filled with a series of disjointed snapshot moments showing off a more altered state of dealing with the story and the audience’s emotions. FBI agent Taryn Miles (Lucy Liu) interviews Domino about her case and other cases to work on involving the stolen $10 million. From this interview, various flashbacks are shown in snapshots: the recounting of a cute little girl brought up in the upper class society and her moments with her father just before he died; her boring life as a model; her boarding school life; her personal training to become a bounty hunter; her bounty hunter days; her group filming a reality show along with two Beverly Hills 90210 actors; and plotpoints overfilled with people and things getting shot and smashed and blown up during bounty hunter-criminal encounters. In between, the memories are cut back to Domino and the FBI agent inside a small room in low-key lighting. That’s basically the story.

Domino movie review

Whether intentionally or not, it seems like the whole movie being an interview between Domino and the agent is a near escape to put in the experimental but cluttered visuals intended for the project.

There is too much focus on making visual statements than telling an effective tale. A better screenplay could have supported the visual content more thoroughly to make the picture much more worthwhile.

Domino’s tough guy cohorts Ed (Mickey Rourke) and Choco (Edgar Ramirez) give her the chance to fulfill the fun she seeks out for — becoming a bounty hunter. Ed shines as her bounty hunter mentor and surrogate father. Choco becomes, besides being a teammate, a shallow representation of repressed love.

One thing that remains unclear in the narrative is the vague and sudden entrance of a certain Wanderer (Tom Waits) in one scene as he does his mysterious preacher-like and prophetic monologue about Domino, her group, and the society. He surprisingly shows up out of the blue to answer all of Domino’s questions when she doesn’t know what to do — his scene carelessly injected into the script for the sake of cinematic tension and drama, as well as to tie some loose ends.

The movie’s weakness primarily hides within its experimental treatment, which is not necessarily bad if effectively crafted. Compared to good independent, experimental, and art-house presentations often utilizing such treatment, this one turns out excessive in style but lacking substance.

Some of Domino’s repetitive lines about life, death, and destiny turn out striking: “Heads you win, tails you die… My destiny is life…” Here, there is a certain mood and feel in a considerably favorable taste for cinematic drama.

Watching this picture is like an acid trip towards jittery shots, playful visuals, some dark and some warm and saturated colors, low-key lighting, choppy edits, and unimpressive sound track and musical score in an over-plotted narrative. The series of supposedly powerful visuals gets tied together into a cluttered film of snapshots.

This movie provides some good statements here and there. It could have been a good cinematic offering, if not for being overdosed with hyper-stylized design. It goes a bit overboard, just like with the real-life Domino Harvey who suffered from drug overdose.

Rianne Hill Soriano
Rianne is a director, writer, educator, and consultant in film and commercial productions. From mainstream essentials to independent flair, she knows the drill in making entertaining and well-meaning productions. She can lead a pack passionate about extreme action and technological edge; she can breathe an endearing and sentimental style for a team with a sweet disposition.

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