a critiQal film review Domino (2005)

Plot: Domino Harvey (Knightley), a former model, is now a bounty hunter who has been arrested for robbing an armored car. During interrogation, she claims innocence and tells her story. Harvey became a pupil of Ed Moseby (Rourke), who ran a course for aspiring bounty hunters. Along with Choco (Ramirez), the three of them became a successful team. But, when a bail bondsman (Lindo) offered a job, they faced a complicated frame-up. Loosely based on a true story.

476 words (Est. Reading Time 2m 22s)
  • ...enhanced by Knightley's surprisingly good performance, the film is an imperfect, brash, in-your-face, violent actioneer.

Looking for something to watch today, I ran across Domino, starring Keira Knightley. Slammed by critics back when it was first released, it wasn’t high on my list of must-sees (although critics have been wrong before), but I figured why not?

Known for her role in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003), Keira Knightley takes on a much grittier character in the title role of Domino. Surprisingly, she’s impressive here as well, and shows there is more to her than just a pretty face. As the audience’s sole deliverer into the events of the film, she manages to keep them semi-grounded, even as they fly through the craziness the film brings – even while playing her part in a nonchalant, off-the-cuff kind of way.

The rest of the cast isn’t quite as impressive, but decent performances by Mickey Rourke and Edgar Ramirez help round out the main trio in Domino. Of course, Christopher Walken pops up in another short-but-sweet near-cameo, and helps give the film a kind of zany humor. It’s also somewhat of a guilty pleasure to see Beverly Hills 90210 (TV) alum Ian Ziering and Brian Austin Green taken down a few pegs as these wannabe tough guys fall apart at the first sign of trouble, in essence helping to take down that silly show a peg or two as well.

While much has been made of the way Domino presents itself – in flashy, disjointed vignettes reminiscent of a stylized music video (back when MTV actually played that sort of thing), it’s not as bad as some make it out to be. Sure, the flashy cuts are a bit unsettling, but it does seem to embody this unsettling story – and reminds viewers of a Tarantino-written film by the name of Natural Born Killers (1994). It has the same kind of drug-induced hyper-activity feel to it, with Keira taking over the Mallory Knox role, and kind of leaving Mickey Knox as a secondary character. There are other obvious nods as well, with reality TV commentary replacing the media frenzy evidenced in Natural Born Killers (1994).

Unfortunately, while Natural Born Killers (1994) – despite it’s odd musings from time to time, kept the viewer on point with it’s story. With Domino, the film rambles much more, and it sometimes takes it awhile to get back on point. This might have to do with the too-long runtime of the film. At over 2 hours, it takes a bit longer than expected to get back to the finale, and a few of it’s rambling side trips could have been left on the cutting room floor without damaging the film in the slightest.

Still, Domino is a brash and in-your-face, heavily stylized violent actioneer, and with Keira Knightley’s strong performance leading the way, should win over more fans than most of the critics would have expected. It’s by no means perfect – but it is still worth a look.

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