Keira Get Your Gun

Her name is Domino Harvey, and she is a bounty hunter. If you’ve seen even one TV spot or theatrical trailer for Domino, you’ve had that message ground into your brain like an annoying jingle. What you may not know is that Domino Harvey was a real person, daughter of actor Laurence Harvey (of Manchurian Candidate fame), and a model turned bounty hunter. The character of Domino Harvey, played by Keira Knightley in Tony Scott’s new film, is based on the real one, but only loosely. The real Domino died (apparently of a drug overdose) shortly after the movie was completed; perhaps it’s best never to allow a biopic of oneself until you’re good and old.

The film’s story is framed by an FBI interrogation in which psychologist Taryn Miles (Lucy Liu) questions Domino about an armored-car heist. Domino’s narration ensues, but not all of it is directed at her interrogator; at one point, to emphasize that she isn’t going to die during the course of her story, she says, “This ain’t Sunset Boulevard,” a reference to the Billy Wilder film narrated by a corpse. This demonstrates not only an awareness of her own life but also the knowledge that she’s a character in a movie.

About halfway through, Domino stops being an overly narrated biopic and starts becoming a heist movie. Bail bondsman Claremont Williams III (Delroy Lindo), who runs a Vegas armored-car service that gets held up, decides that his own bounty hunters should take care of things. But complications ensue, especially when Mafia interests enter the picture and when Williams’ mistress, Lateesha (Mo’Nique), a “blacktino” woman with massive earrings that spell out her name, gets desperate enough to steal in order to save her ailing granddaughter.

Director Tony Scott generally makes disposable, testosterone-heavy entertainment (Top Gun, Crimson Tide). Perhaps realizing that he was never more acclaimed than when collaborating with Quentin Tarantino on True Romance, he has now teamed up with Donnie Darko writer-director Richard Kelly. The combination is not as natural as the one that produced Romance. Tarantino seems like the sort who would watch Scott’s movies for fun, but Kelly is more esoteric. The clash between the two voices is most glaring during a scene in the desert where Tom Waits shows up as a preacher and has a surreal conversation with Domino while reclining in random furniture items against the backdrop of the Nevada sands. It’s a scene with potential, but Scott insists on rapidly rotating his camera around Knightley and Waits in nausea-inducing fashion.

Kelly does get in some nice jokes about oral sex with dogs, race-based labels, and the death of Sam Kinison. He also turns Domino’s loathing of the “90210 world” upside down by having Ian Ziering and Brian Austin Green show up, playing themselves, as hosts of a bounty-hunter reality show that follows Domino and her crew around. As the producer of that show, Christopher Walken plays the human version of “a ferret on crystal meth.” Translation? He exclaims “Wow!” a lot. Like the movie as a whole, the casting of Walken offers more potential than is actually realized. It’s amusing, but it isn’t much more.

Categories: Movies