Friday, October 14, 2005 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Movie Review

Jumbled imagery, plot points lead to "Domino" effect

Special to The Seattle Times

For all the precision that went into creating its jittery grime, rancid color schemes and stylistically violent excess, you'd think that "Domino" was a study of life in some drug-crazed underworld. But drugs are curiously downplayed in this messy, fictionalized saga of femme-fatale bounty-hunter Domino Harvey.

By all accounts, the real Domino loved firearms, hanging around with shady characters and busting down doors in pursuit of criminals, as the movie depicts. But Domino also had a serious substance-abuse problem, which ultimately claimed her life last June and which the movie pointedly ignores.

As portrayed by willowy British charmer Keira Knightley, Domino gets all of her kicks from adrenaline alone. Whatever kicks "Domino" provides depend solely on your ability to metabolize visual overindulgence.

Instead of what might have been an absorbing character study from screenwriter Richard Kelly ("Donnie Darko"), "Domino" is a jumble of fragmented imagery and plot points.

Using Oliver Stone-like tricks, director Tony Scott gnaws through a muddle of film and video stock that looks as though it were trodden on by a herd of garish green elephants. The flash-frame filmmaking is marginally held together by fussy editing.

Movie review



Showtimes and trailer 1.5 stars


"Domino," with Keira Knightley, Mickey Rourke, Edgar Ramirez, Lucy Liu, Christopher Walken. Directed by Tony Scott, from a screenplay by Richard Kelly, based on a story by Kelly and Steve Barancik. 122 minutes. Rated R for strong violence, pervasive language, sexual content/nudity and drug use. Several theaters.

The movie uses just the barest shred of Domino's real-life journey from pampered daughter of actor Laurence Harvey and a famous fashion model to streetwise bounty hunter, whose considerable martial-arts skills gained wide acclaim in her subculture world.

Its absurd crime narrative finds Domino mixed up with an armored-car robbery, millions of stolen mob dollars that end up funding terrorists in Afghanistan and a bloody standoff that culminates with the destruction of a Las Vegas hotel.

Somehow wandering through this are Christopher Walken as a wacky reality-TV producer, two of "Beverly Hills 90210's" washed-up stars (cleverly playing themselves) and Tom Waits, who appears out of the desert as some sort of talismanic hallucination.

The only other bright spots are a bemused Mickey Rourke as Domino's boss and Venezuelan heartthrob Edgar Ramirez as her smoldering psychopath sidekick. Then there's Knightley, whose grace and charm are wasted in this pointless exercise.

Lucy Liu appears as an FBI agent charged with figuring out why Domino is such an angry young woman. She never does, and neither do we.

Ted Fry:

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company


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