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Mickey Rourke is a severely underrated actor. Now in his fifties, he has spent the last decade or so being shunned by Hollywood, rediscovering his boxing dreams (relatively successfully) and—very recently—working his way back into the limelight. Back in the day he could stand his own against master actors like Robert De Niro, but he probably reached an all-time high with his pivotal role as Marv in the superior film noir Sin City. He probably owes a large amount of his comeback success to both Sin City’s director Robert Rodriguez (who also worked with him on Once Upon a Time in Mexico) and to the director of this movie, Tony Scott (who also gave him a part in his solid Denzel Washington thriller Man on Fire).

Domino

Feature


“Heads you live, tails you die.”

Domino Harvey was the real-life daughter of actor Lawrence Harvey (star of The Manchurian Candidate). After her dad died she was sent away to high school by her distant mother and eventually went into modelling—having just the right face and body to attract attention. However, unhappy with her career, she soon dropped out and had no idea where she wanted to go. So she decided to be a bounty hunter. Joining up with the renowned veteran bounty hunter, Ed Mosley, and his young volatile partner, Choco, she soon proves herself to be a force to be reckoned with.

The movie purports to be based on a true story—sort of—but it is basically just a very stylised and extremely liberal take on one key operation in Domino’s career. Sure, we get a brief summary of how she got to being ‘bounty hunter of the year’ and an introduction to all of the main characters, but the real focus is on this one hunt that goes severely wrong. Of course, this being a Tony Scott film, everything is jumbled up and fast-cut, with variable camera speeds, lots of different types of film stock and plenty of random subtitles. If you thought Man on Fire was pushing ‘style’ to the limit, this is a whole different ballgame.

Domino
But is it all style and no substance? The answer is not that clear-cut. I think that, overall, the movie is a little bit disappointing. It is over two hours in length but it tells a tale which could probably have been summed-up enjoyably and entertainingly in about ninety minutes. In addition, the best bits are clearly the character-building historical scenes that paint the picture of Domino’s life, as well as the smaller bounty-hunting escapades that she embarks upon during the early part of her career. When the story shifts to the one big heist and the complicated machinations that culminate in a deadly fire-fight involving rival mafia crews and angry police units, the movie becomes slightly bogged-down and almost drags. We have not really seen what Domino can do as a bounty hunter (other than during a ludicrous scene where she pacifies a room-full of armed punks with a striptease and a lap-dance) and it is difficult to understand just how everything went from relatively simple bounty hunter tasks to convoluted trouble involving hitmen, reality TV-show hosts and FBI sting operatives.

So, the style does overtake the substance, but it also keeps the movie flashy and fast enough to be reasonably interesting throughout. Of course, there is a big plus point—the cast. It is worth noting first that Keira Knightley is not actually that bad as Domino Harvey. Sure she looks much more model than bounty hunter, but her skills, her accent and her attitude all seemed relatively in-line with the loose true-story interpretation. Perhaps getting her to strip for her first bounty hunting operation was a little ludicrous, but fans of Knightley probably won’t complain too much about her attire—or lack thereof—in this particular movie. Although I’m sure she’ll keep doing her Pirates of the Caribbean and Pride and Prejudice-style roles, it is nice to see her attempt to broaden her range.

Domino
Mickey Rourke is on good form, totally and utterly convincing as the veteran bounty hunter Ed Mosley. Still sporting the body of a boxer, and boasting the kind of method acting skills that we haven’t really seen since the hey-days of Brando and DeNiro, he is utterly captivating whenever on-screen and gets quite a weighty role here as Domino’s mentor. I hope that between this and Sin City, he is on his way up again and gets plenty of meaty roles in the future (one hopeful is a perfect part for him in the upcoming Elmore Leonard adaptation Killshot).

There are numerous other familiar faces that pop up, although their roles are of variable size and significance. Christopher Walken ( The Deer Hunter) is enigmatic as ever, it’s just as shame that his involvement in the Reality TV Show side of the operation is just as pointless as the random Jerry Springer segments. Lucy Liu ( Charlie’s Angels) plays her poker face perfectly as a tough FBI Agent determined to crack Domino, but unfortunately she gets to do little more than stare and threaten. Jacqueline Bisset is suitably aloof as Domino’s unreliable mother, Mena Suvari ( American Beauty) gets a lame cameo as Walken’s secretary and Get Shorty’s Delroy Lindo gets a nice character role as the bounty hunting trio’s bail-bondsman boss, Clairmont Williams III.

Domino is a good, solid action thriller that is let down slightly by a lack of focus—or rather focus on the wrong part of the central character’s life. The visual style certainly goes some way to make up for the stretched and strained plot, but the real big selling point to this movie has to be the excellent actors involved, with Keira Knightley pulling off quite a demanding role and being superbly backed-up by the likes of heavyweight Mickey Rourke. I know that some might feel that it was a bit of a wasted opportunity (certainly I was a little disappointed in the cinema) but if you forgive the silly parts of the story and the fact that it is slightly overlong, you are still likely to enjoy the violent, action-packed, visually opulent franticness of it all.

Domino

Video


Domino is presented in a glorious 2.40:1 aspect ratio anamorphically enhanced widescreen transfer. The detail is fantastic throughout, with good clarity, no softness (unless intentional) and no grain (again, unless required by the format). There is absolutely no edge enhancement and no noticeable signs of digital artefacting. The colour scheme is dictated by Scott’s wild visual style, with a generally bright and vivid palette (often unrealistically so) and solid blacks. The transfer itself exhibits no print damage whatsoever.

Audio


We her several main soundtracks—primarily a DTS 5.1 track which really showcases the movie’s mix for what it is worth. Dialogue is always clear and coherent and generally presented from the frontal array but the effects and score really make you feel like you are at the heart of the action. There are plenty of effects on offer—mostly big and brutal and boisterous, with explosions and lots of shooting sessions and craziness as you would expect from an exaggerated story about bounty hunters. The score is not quite as good as that for Scott’s Man on Fire (there is a noticeable lack of Nine Inch Nails) but it is still a very well-selected bunch of song tracks that help pump up the frantic feel of the picture. There is plenty of bass and overall, as you would expect from Scott, it is one of those tracks that you could use to showcase your surround sound system. The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is almost indistinguishable (although perhaps a little less potent) and there is also a Dolby Digital 2.0 effort on offer.
Domino

Extras


We get two full-length audio commentaries. The first is with Director Tony Scott and Writer Richard Kelly. Scott explains how he has had the project on the go for some twelve years and how he approached the real Domino Harvey and had to convince her to let him do the movie. Richard Kelly appears to be a part of a separate track—he talks independently and discusses Scott’s style, the various characters and the plot lines that were expanded on and made more ‘interesting’ for cinematic purposes. Scott praises Knightly and, of course, the great Mickey Rourke, who has admired and wanted to work with for several decades. We get lots of background information into the story, the way it was shot and the technical aspects of some of the effects and it is a solid commentary track that fans of the film will want to give some time to.

The second commentary track is basically taken from several script notes and story development meetings between Tony Scott and the writers. It is much less interesting than the first main track since it is very patchy and random, and certainly does not sound like it was intended to ever be presented in this fashion. Still, you get to gauge, somewhat, the path of the production and some of the ideas and changes they made along the way.

There are seven deleted and alternative scenes (totalling nearly ten minutes of extra footage): ‘Young Domino and Nanny’ (where she ties up the nanny to get up to mischief), ‘Therapist’s Office’ (featuring about a dozen uses of the C-word), ‘Ian Tells of Howie Stein’, ‘Rachet Down the Violence’ (with more from Christopher Walken), ‘Explosion Aftermath’ (again with more Walken), ‘Love in the Desert’ (an alternate sex scene) and ‘Mescaline Tripping at the Stardust’. Tony Scott’s commentary explains why they were removed, how many worked better in the script than they did in the final cut and how the movie was quite long as it was and some of the scenes just had to go. They’re definitely all worth a watch and some of them should have perhaps been included instead of some of the padding that did make it to the final cut.

Domino
‘I am a Bounty Hunter’: Domino Harvey’s life is a twenty minute featurette on the real-life Domino Harvey. We get Domino in interview, along with her mother, her former bounty-hunting partner Choco, some childhood friends, the producers, Keira Knightley, the director Tony Scott and various other members of the cast and crew. It is an extremely informative and interesting featurette that has plenty of background trivia about her real life, her family, her modelling career and her bounty hunting career. There are lots of old stills and old footage, but easily the highlights have to be the snippets we get from the girl herself and her friends. And if this weren’t already the best extra on the disc then we also get a second audio track for it, with writer Richard Kelly interviewing Domino herself. Here we get even more from the main girl herself, discussing in detail her history as a bounty hunter. It truly is the icing on the cake and this is definitely the highlight of the disc.

The ‘Bounting Hunting on Acid’: Tony Scott’s visual style featurette is a little over ten minutes in length and looks at Scott’s exploration of various different camera and film techniques to create an inimitable (and, to some, unwatchable) style. The crew (including Scott himself) discuss these processes in detail and explain how they created the particular look. It is an interesting and informative featurette, particularly if you want to know how he manages to make his movies so distinctive, and it is very good that they include brief shots of his previous work for comparison.

There are two trailers, a theatrical one and a teaser trailer, both of which give you an idea as to the story content and the style of the production, without giving away much of the plot.

Domino

Overall


Domino is certainly more style than substance, but with Tony Scott at the helm, this is only what you would expect. It is an interesting story that has been skewed a bit too heavily in the wrong direction, but it is still grounded by some fantastic performances, not least Keira Knightley, who is fine as the lead, but also Mickey Rourke, who is cementing his long-awaited comeback with some superior parts like this. The video and audio presentation are fantastic and there are a whole bunch of extras—everything you could possibly want for the release—thrown into the package. A recommended rental for those who like the sound of it and a definite must-have for fans of Scott, Rourke or anybody else integral to the production.


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