Judge Eric Profancik rolls you over, Romeo. There you go. (Lord have mercy...)
Heads you live…Tails you die.
I'm a trailer guy. I love trailers, and I end up watching a ton of them. If I actually go out to a theater, I'm mad if I miss a trailer. When I saw the teaser trailer for Domino, I immediately disliked the film. It wasn't so much what I saw in the trailer, but what I heard:
"My name is Domino Harvey, and I'm a bounty hunter."
Hearing Keira Knightley (Bend it Like Beckham, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl) saying that line ad nauseam in a thick British accent turned me off. A few months later, the theatrical trailer popped up and I decided to give it a watch. Hmmm…I was intrigued. Without that irritating tagline running amok, the movie looked interesting…quite interesting. I decided I'd give this one a try in the theaters.
But I didn't. It wasn't the trailer's fault. In fact, after watching this DVD and going back to the teaser trailer, that teaser was a lot better than I thought. I just couldn't get past that "My name is Domino Haahvee, and I'm ah bountee huntah!" Turns out I missed a pretty good film. Judging by its low grosses, so did you.
Facts of the Case
Based on a true story…sort of.
The daughter of a model and an actor, Domino Harvey was a rebel from the start. Her father Laurence Harvey (The Manchurian Candidate) died when she was very young, and her formative years didn't curtail her wild instincts. From precocious child to antisocial teen, Domino never fit in. At one point she became a model, but found that life too dull and routine. By chance Domino came across an ad for a bounty hunter seminar, decided to attend, and the rest is history.
Domino tells a semi-true tale of Domino Harvey's life, only slightly wildly exaggerated. At the intersection of Las Vegas, the mafia, the FBI, reality television, and the California Department of Motor Vehicles is the tale of her final job as a bounty hunter.
"My name is Domino Harvey, and I'm a bounty hunter."
This is a crazy film. It's hyper-real, hyper-exaggerated, and hyper-everything. Hidden somewhere in this hyperspace is a nugget of truth: troubled teen becomes model, gets bored, and transforms into a bounty hunter. As for the veracity of this final adventure, there isn't any. If you've seen the trailer (the theatrical one, if I'm not mistaken), then you know that a certain edifice never truly experienced such an explosive confrontation.
We're not going to watch Domino for a wholly honest biopic. No. That wouldn't be as exciting, and it certainly wouldn't be Tony Scott's (Man on Fire, Enemy of the State, Crimson Tide) style. Scott has an impressive resumé; my favorite film by him is easily Crimson Tide. It's an excellent, manly adventure, making even the highly insufferable Denzel Washington tolerable for two hours. Over the years, Scott has been tweaking his style, and he's come full circle with Domino. Without question, this movie is overflowing with visual panache, so much so that there's a bonus item entitled "Bounty Hunting on Acid." Scott's visual style is so chaotic, aggressive, and stimulating that it receives the majority of discussion of the movie. People are more concerned with his hand-cranked camera, use of colors, and editing than they are with the overall directing, acting, and story. Quite simply, you will either embrace the style and enjoy the movie, or it will give you a seizure or headache and you'll hate the movie. I found it stimulating; it didn't give me seizures; and it yielded a fascinating new dimension to the film. Speeding up and slowing down the stock with his hand-cranked camera, skewing the color scheme to extremes, and editing the film like MTV on crack sounds awful, but it works because Tony Scott isn't a rank amateur. He's a seasoned professional who has grown and evolved and knows how to use such an aggressive style to enhance the viewing experience.
Focusing on the style, which is an excellent point of discussion, does the movie a disservice by ignoring some strong selling points, most importantly the cast and their acting. Let me give you a quick rundown of the people in this film: Keira Knightley, Mickey Rourke (Sin City), Delroy Lindo (Heist), Christopher Walken (Wedding Crashers), Mena Suvari (American Beauty), Lucy Liu (Charlie's Angels), and Jacqueline Bisset (Bullitt). Moving off the headliners we have: Dabney Coleman (Tootsie), Jerry Springer, Ian Ziering and Brian Austin Green (Beverly Hills 90210), Macy Gray, Stanley Kamel, Mo'Nique, not to mention the real 18th Street Gang from East LA. For me, this is an impressive lineup of talent. Though not overflowing with Oscars, they have done some great work, and they all do excellent work in Domino. Each person inhabits his or her character, making you somewhat believe these people are real and the events could have happened. (Most characters are based on real people, with the names changed to protect the innocent…except that their real names are mentioned quite liberally in the bonus items.) You have to give a special mention to Keira, Mickey, Christopher, Mena, Ian, and Brian for exceptional work. It's obvious that without Keira, the movie fails; she's amazing. Mickey gives the movie its tough mettle, as we aren't fully convinced Domino is as tough as a bounty hunter should be. Christopher is magnificently Walken as a reality television executive, with Mena shuffling along behind him. And Ian and Brian are a great comedic duo, woefully out of place in this dangerous series of events.
Put it together—a visually compelling style, an excellent ensemble of actors doing great work, mixed with an interesting and intriguing story—and you end up with Domino, a fun and wild ride.
New Line has given Domino the "Platinum Series" treatment—and does it show. For some reason, they released widescreen and fullscreen versions. I received the former, sporting a gorgeous 2.35:1 anamorphic print. I did not see the slightest error in the print: no artifacting, no haze, no aliasing, no dirt, no anything. It's a crisp, clean print that makes you think you're looking out a window. With Scott's visual style, it is somewhat hard to measure color accuracy, yet he did leave us with a few scenes without his extreme color skewing, and those are rock solid. And with all of his color choices it's worth noting there's not one ounce of color bleeding with the strong oranges or blues. You'll love what you see.
You'll also love what you hear, though it isn't quite perfect. There are two audio choices, a DTS 6.1 track and a Dolby Digital 5.1 EX track. I always go for a DTS mix first, and this one rocks. It'll knock you off your couch with its power and clarity, brilliantly using all the channels to surround you and put you in the middle of the action with no distortion. Unfortunately, my DTS is flawed. I counted five separate instances where the track dropped out for a split second. I've seen this on a few other discs (Blade 2), but I've never noticed five occurrences. It is troubling, and it lessens an otherwise stellar mix. Maybe it's my equipment—but I don't think so, for the sound didn't drop out during the most intense and dynamic scenes. As a result of this, my score for the DTS track is 90 (maybe a lit lenient); without the pops, it probably would have been 100.
For those of you without DTS capability, the DD 5.1 EX mix is excellent, but lacks the raw dynamic power of the DTS mix. Seeing as you won't know what you're missing, it's a great mix that will shake a wall or two. Your bonus is that the five dropouts from above are missing on this track. My DD score is a 97, which averaged with the DTS score gives you the overall 94 score.
It's worth mentioning Domino's use of music at this point. There's an eclectic mix of music throughout the film, from classic rock to some hard rocking tunes. It adds another level to the movie, further enhancing the experience. Each piece of music fits right, giving the scenes an extra pop. It also doesn't hurt that the songs all sound great on the audio tracks.
Not only was I (mostly) impressed with the transfers, but I also found myself enjoying the bonus materials and the slightly different options available. You'll find the usual bonus items, but also a new twist or two. The usual and unusual suspects are:
• Audio Commentary by director Tony Scott and writer Richard
• Secondary Audio Track—Script Notes and Story Development
Meetings with Tony Scott, Richard Kelly, Zach Schiff-Abrams, and Tom Waits
• Deleted/Alternate Scenes (8 minutes)
• "I Am a Bounty Hunter: Domino Harvey's Life" (20.5
• "Bounty Hunting on Acid: Tony Scott's Visual Style"
Rounding things out are the teaser and theatrical trailers, and trailers for Final Destination 3, History of Violence, and Blade: The Series. If you're so inclined, there is DVD-ROM content; I did not attempt to view it since it's Interactual-based.
Of note: Most DVDs I own that have music on the menus play that music constantly, in a loop. Domino, by contrast, doesn't loop the music. It plays once and stops. Nice.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
It's not spoiling anything to reveal that this movie is told in flashback. As an FBI agent (Lucy Liu) interviews Domino, we see how everything went wrong. Using this stale storytelling device took away any edge. By starting near the end, showing us a very pivotal moment, and seeing Domino in the interview, you basically know how it ends. I think this movie could have been more effective sans the flashback.
I was nicely surprised by Domino, and I enjoyed its crazy ride. The disc is top notch (with just a handful of audio hiccups), the bonus items are solid, the story is creative, Scott's style is vibrant, and the acting is superb. Put that all together and I'm giving Domino a purchase recommendation.
"My name is Eric Profancik, and I'm a DVD reviewah."
Domino is hereby found guilty of reckless endangerment. Sentence is commuted to time served.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: New Line
• Audio Commentary by Tony Scott and Richard Kelly
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