Somewhere, there is a legion of meth addicts for whom this movie makes perfect sense.
For the rest of us, Tony Scott’s pseudo-biography of real-life model-turned-bounty-hunter Domino Harvey, with its jittery editing style, hyperactive filtering and other camera tricks, is an entertaining, baffling assault on the eyeballs.
This film claims to be “inspired” by actual events, but whatever events inspired it, I am doubtful that they had anything to do with the real Domino Harvey. It’s true that there was a bounty hunter who was the daughter of actor Laurence Harvey (The Manchurian Candidate) and who gave up a career as a model to chase down bail jumpers, but from that point forward, this movie and reality part company as suddenly as Nick and Jessica.
The plot of this film makes Tony Scott’s previous films, like Enemy of the State and Man on Fire, seem about as subdued and realistic as an Ingmar Bergman film. It has something to do with Domino’s boss (Delroy Lindo) robbing his own armored car of money belonging to a mobbed-up casino owner (Dabney Coleman) to pay the medical bills for the child of one his contacts at the Department of Motor Vehicles. Somewhere along the way, bad cell phone reception causes a man to get his arm blown off with a shot gun. It all culminates in a gun battle that goes over the top like an ICBM aimed at Las Vegas.
Domino, give the goddamn numchucks a rest already.
It’s not the plot that makes this movie worth seeing, but the casting and the bizarre detours that the story takes. Keira Knightley dominates this movie in a role exactly 180 degrees from Jane Austen. Looking vulnerably waif-like, she is surprisingly credible as this emotionally wounded tough girl for whom a well-placed sucker punch is a perfectly valid means of communication. This film does gloss over some of the less savory aspects of the real Domino’s life (believe it or not). At the time of her death in June 2005 from a painkiller overdose, she was under house arrest awaiting trial for dealing methamphetamines.
As Domino’s mentor, Mickey Rourke looks like he’s lived through at least four sequels to Sin City. Playing true to form, Christopher Walken is eccentric and energetically sleazy as a reality television producer.
Among the oddball touches is Rourke and Knightley’s Venezuelan partner (Edgar Ramirez), who’s so smitten with Domino that he can’t bring himself to speak English to her. There is also the inspired casting of Beverly Hills, 90210 stars Bryan Austin Green and Ian Ziering, playing themselves as washed-up TV actors trying to resurrect their careers by hosting a reality television show about bounty hunters. Stanley Kamel plays a Vegas mobster who places telephone calls underwater to avoid FBI eavesdropping.
Finally, there is a throwaway appearance by songwriter Tom Waits as a deranged preacher who seems to be channeling Dennis Hopper’s role in Apocalypse Now. Director Scott throws it all together in a dizzying mish-mash of a movie that jumps around like an ADHD sufferer on a caffeine bender.
Still, it’s hard not to feel somewhat charitable toward a movie that marks the emotional turning points in its heroine’s life through the motif of dead goldfish.