Domino (2005)

Starring: Keira Knightley, Mickey Rourke, Edgar Ramirez, Christopher Walker, Mena Suvari, Delroy Lindo, Mo'Nique, Lucy Liu, Rizwan Abbasi, Tom Waits

Directed by: Tony Scott

Rating: 1 2 3 4

Keira Knightley as Domino Harvey in Tony Scott's Domino

Desperate to avoid falling into the Helena Bonham Carter bodice trap, Keira Knightley sprints straight from the genteel set of Pride and Prejudice to the bloody, blistering Nevada desert for Domino, the latest supercool shoot 'em up from True Romance's Tony Scott. Trading bonnets and ringlets for tattoos and thongs, she plays a spoilt little rich girl, Domino Harvey, whose idea of 'some fun' is swapping a privileged Beverley Hills 90210 existence for life on the road as a gun-toting, chain smoking, lap dancing bounty hunter. An English rose with extremely spiky thorns, Domino finds a new (albeit dysfunctional) family with hard boiled boss Ed (Mickey Rourke, capitalising on his comeback success in grand style) and sexy, greasy Latino sidekick Choco (Edgar Ramirez).

Sounds a bit ridiculous? Don't mock - it's based on a true story. Sort of.

Everything starts to unravel, however, when the bounty hunters become involved in a botched heist for $10 million. Cue much complicated crossing and double crossing with 'the Feds', the Mafia and some seriously shady billionaire types (trust me, you can more or less follow it this time - hooray!), throw in some great styling, oodles of sex appeal courtesy of Keira and Edgar Ramirez, a bizarre cameo from Tom Waits, an appearance from Nazir from our very own River City (seriously!) and a soundtrack that'll make your ears bleed (a great use of Tom Jones - again I say, hooray!) and top it off with a shoot out of truly epic proportions which makes the gun fight at the end of True Romance look like a teddy bear's picnic and you have one seriously groovy movie.

Christopher Walken as TV executive Mark Heiss

There are two things, however, which separate Domino from other similar gun toting fodder. The first is its heroine. While many of the characters scream stereotype (the gaggle of sassy, hip hoppin' black ladies spring to mind) Domino herself is almost an anti-stereotype, her cut glass accent and fragile good looks utterly at odds with her tough demeanour, barbed wire defensiveness and penchant for casual violence. Moody, obnoxious and cold as a goldfish, she's a real man's woman who uses sex as a weapon as effectively as she wields a pair of numchucks, and we girls ought to hate her - kudos, then, to Keira Knightley's nuanced, wholehearted performance that in fact we want to be her.

Secondly, there's the subplot, which involves a high powered TV executive Mark Heiss (played by Christopher Walken in full on crazy mode) who wants to turn 'The Bounty Squad' into a hit reality show, hosted by Beverley Hills 90210 has beens Ian Ziering and Brian Austin Green (playing themselves, in marvellously vanity-free self-parodying fashion). And so, in a nice postmodern twist (ugh), we see our on screen heroes pursued by a truck full of cameras, whilst Heiss sits at the mixing desk peeing his pants in excitement as the body count goes up. It's as if Tony Scott is mocking our obsession with violence, while feeding it at the same time, in the most stylish, sensational and satisfying way possible.

The Bounty Squad - Choco, Ed and Domino

As for glamourising violence, Domino does for guns what Kate Moss does for cocaine - <joke>mine's an AK47 and a rolled up fiver, barman</joke>. The bloodshed and shoot outs may be brutal and uncompromising, but they're never anything less than cool. At times, a little too cool, to be honest - there's only so much frenetic MTV camera work, cooler than Lemmy's fridge slo-mo and weird, jaundiced screen tints an audience can take, and at times Domino can seem a little migraine inducing.

But in the end, films are made to entertain, and Domino certainly comes through on that score, all guns (literally) blazing. Exciting, enthralling and surprisingly emotionally involving, Domino is definitely ahead of the game.

  • Share on Tumblr