Tony Scott’s semi-autobiographical take on the life of Lawrence Harvey’s daughter is a strange mix of the entertaining and the uneven.
The real life of Domino Harvey is as surreal as any fiction Hollywood has come up with in recent years. The daughter of actor Laurence Harvey, she was initially raised in Britain and educated at private schools before moving to LA with her mother. There she proceeded to rebel against her privileged upbringing by becoming a bounty hunter and finding criminals who had jumped bail. An already intriguing story took a tragic real life twist when Harvey was found dead earlier this summer, some months after principal photography on the film was finished. The end result is an entertaining – if not entirely successful – action film that showcases Tony Scott’s kinetic shooting styles.
The film takes a semi-autobiographical approach to Harvey’s life. Whilst the characters are based on their real life counterparts, Richard Kelly’s script weaves a fictional crime story around them. Framed by a narrative device which sees Domino (Kiera Knightley) explaining her story to an FBI agent (Lucy Lui) the plot sees her and her fellow bounty hunters (Mickey Rourke and Edgar Ramirez) get involved in a convoluted scam involving the DMV, the Mob and a group of criminals who stage a heist dressed as First Ladies. Throughout all of this the bounty hunters are being filmed by a crew from a trashy reality TV show headed up by shameless producer (Christopher Walken) and fronted by two actors from Beverley Hills 90210.
The plot is a fairly riotous mix loaded with different elements – some of which are more successful than others – and the effect of all this is embellished by Scott’s usual directorial flourishes. Multiple cameras film even minor acts, such as the lighting of a cigarette, from different angles and with different film stocks. If you have seen Scott’s most recent films Man on Fire or even Spy Game then you will now how he loves to assault the senses of the viewer. Now, this isn’t for everyone and some critics positively loathe this kind of film making, but although at times it feels overcooked it makes a refreshing change from the visual sterility that affects a lot of mainstream cinema.
The problem with Domino is not in the visuals or the convoluted plot, it is in the casting. Kiera Knightley is simply not convincing in the title role. Although she was agreeable in Pirates of the Caribbean and more recently Pride and Prejudice, I simply fail to see why she has so many Hollywood agents drooling over her. She is still young and perhaps will become the actress a lot of people think she already is but in this film the sight of her wielding a knife or a shotgun doesn’t wash. It’s a shame as the rest of the cast, in particular Mickey Rourke and Delroy Lindo put in some good work, and – for the most part – the film is an enjoyable ride even if the script does some unnecessary twist and turns. Domino falls short of Scott’s best work, but there is enough energy in here to make it worth watching despite the central miscasting.
> Official Site
> Watch the trailer
> Wikipedia on the real Domino Harvey
> Hollywood Reporter with a lengthy article on how the film got made
> Yahoo Feature on the film with Scott talking about how he filmed different sequences