When I first saw `Domino' I was in love. I must admit that I adore Tony Scott's directing style. I remember when I first saw `Man on Fire', I was just blown away by the way Scott could capture your attention so effortlessly. I am a huge fan of his brother Ridley (one of our finest working directors) and while I feel Ridley is the finer director, Tony is working his way up their on his own terms. So to get back to my initial statement, when I first saw `Domino' I was smitten, or in love, whatever I said at first. Upon repeated viewings though, I have found that the film, while fun and explosive and utterly irresistible, is not without flaws; quite a few to be honest.
`Domino' tells the fictionalized story of real life bounty hunter Domino Harvey. Former model and daughter of a famous actor, Domino lived a life of prestige and glamour but she desired something a little more gritty. She resented her money and prominence and wanted to escape it as quickly as possible. When by chance she received an opportunity to do so, she took it, and thus joined bounty hunters Ed and Choco.
Quite possibly the only part of this movie that is true is the fact that Domino Harvey was a real person. More of the story could be based on actual events (I use the word `could' strongly here) but it really doesn't matter much. Whether it's true or not is not the issue. Even the film itself tells you before it begins that this is `sort of' the truth, and we as the audience can appreciate that. This is a way for Scott to pay homage to a friend and he does so with guts and bravado. There is no denying that `Domino' is an exciting visual feast and delivers a good time.
There is a problem though with the manic style in which Scott tells this story. It may not be true, but it should still at least be understandable, and while I'm not saying that the story is impossible to `get' I am saying that it takes a lot out of you to follow it coherently. The film is all over place in most parts, jumping time frames, repeating itself, stuttering, changing direction, jumping back, shifting focus; delivering large amounts of information at once and then going back and changing its mind on us. If you focus your attention you'll get it, but if you are not one who is used to having to really pay close attention you'll find yourself lost, and once you're lost you won't be able to find your way back. `Man on Fire' is a little more controlled, a film that uses the visual flare Tony Scott is known for but with restraint so as not to take away from the impact of the film.
To quote Mena Suvari's character; this film "has the attention span of a ferret on crystal meth."
The plot development is a little overly complicated at times, so much so that it causes me to question Scott's decision to simplify Domino's initiation into the world of bounty hunting. He takes a lot of time to develop this twisted and intricate DMV scam but skimps on showing us how Domino became the bounty hunter that she was (I highly doubt it was as easy as the film makes it seem).
A major highlight to the film though is the acting on the part of the entire cast. Keira Knightley and Mickey Rourke had a great year in 2005. They both gave award winning performances (Knightley in `Pride and Prejudice' and Rourke in `Sin City'), and Knightley even went on to garner an Oscar nomination. Here they excel at playing the character they are given. Knightley gives Harvey heart, and she manages to engage the audience and get us invested in her. Rourke creates a father figure for Domino, but never waters him down. He's still rough and gruff and extreme. Edgar Ramirez does a great job as Choco, the bounty hunter after Domino's heart, and Delroy Lindo is his usual fantastic self as Claremont, Domino's boss. The cast is extensive and serves us memorable performances by everyone from Mo'Nique (her Jerry Springer scene alone is unforgettable) to 90210 stars Ziering and Green (who do a stand up job of digging into their own celebrity).
True, `Domino' could have been a little cleaner, but then again, maybe that would have taken away from the impact Scott was going for. I would have liked to have seen Scott use a little more restraint with his style and delivered something a little more heavy hitting like `Man on Fire' (possibly his best film) and I would have liked to have seem a little more though gone into fleshing out these characters a little morel; but in the end I can't really complain too much. `Domino' is fun and exciting and engaging and serves up a deliciously violent good time. It's not perfect, but no one asked it to be.