By Thom Bennett
“This is based on a true story… sort of.”
Tony Scott’s much-maligned “Domino,” ostensibly based on the life and times of British prep-school girl-turned-model-turned-LA bounty hunter Domino Harvey (Keira Knightley), is a frenetic and sometimes visually overwhelming piece of filmmaking…and that’s before we even get to the story. Since an actual synopsis of the film would border on impossibility, we will go with the premise: Following the death of her actor father, Domino and her model mother relocate to Beverly Hills for a better life. Domino finds the lifestyle and the prospect of a career as a model to her disliking and proceeds to become not just a bounty hunter, but one of the best bounty hunters around, along with partners Choco (Edgar Ramirez) and Ed (Mickey Rourke). That’s all you really need to know Ã¢â‚¬â€œ the rest (and there is a lot of it) sort of flies at you – mescaline spiked tea, severed arms, an armored car heist, former 90210 stars, the DMV, reality TV, Christopher Walken, the freedom of Afghanistan and a too-bizarre-for-words appearance by Tom Waits in the desert.
Tony Scott has somehow managed to out-Tony Scott himself with “Domino.” The hyper-kinetic editing and fiddling with film speeds and exposures resembles something between a seizure and a film shot out of a paint ball gun. That said, the film is remarkably entertaining if often bewildering. “Domino” was a labor of love for the director, who was friends with the real life Domino Harvey, and he pulls out every trick he has in his bag. The screenplay by Richard “Donnie Darko” Kelly similarly manages to throw in everything but the stylized kitchen sink. “Style over substance” seemed to be the general criticism aimed at the film when it was released in theater, but it’s precisely this approach, along with the film’s scattershot, far-fetched narrative, that elevates the real life Domino to comic book superhero status. Domino Harvey’s actual life was far-fetched to begin with; why not drive it right over a cliff? While Scott’s style of filmmaking usually does nothing for me, here he goes for broke and, for once, it pays off. The filmmakers describe the film as “bounty hunting on acid.” That’s an understatement.
The DVD release comes with a couple of worthy extras, including a short documentary on the real Domino Harvey (who passed away before the film’s completion) and a making-of in which Scott and Kelly discuss their various inspirations for and approaches to making this highly unorthodox film. “Domino” may be a cinematic barrage, but it was unduly dismissed it’s a fun film and a suitably exaggerated telling of an already stranger-than-fiction life. As Knightley’s Domino states in the final scene, “If you’re wondering what’s true and what isn’t, you can fuck off. I’ll never tell you what it all meant.” Indeed.
The “Domino” DVD will be released by New Line Home Video in wide- and full screen editions on February 21.