“Based on a true story.”
Domino Harvey was the daughter of British movie star Laurence Harvey (The Manchurian Candidate<img src="http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=nellminowthemovi&l=ur2&o=1" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;"). She grew up in luxurious surroundings, worked as a model, and then became a bounty hunter. She died of a drug overdose a few months before the movie’s release date.
You’d think all of that would be plenty for a movie, but director Tony Scott (Top Gun, Days of Thunder) feels he has to MTV it up with quick cuts, swooping pans, what feels like half the shots either sped up or slowed down and “Three Hours Later”-type titles marching across the screen.
It’s not enough that Domino (Kiera Knightly, about as tough as Bounty Hunter Barbie) and her colleagues break into a trailer after some stolen loot, bringing a severed arm with the combination to the safe on it; the trailer has to have the television on so Domino can see her father and Frank Sinatra in a scene from The Manchurian Candidate.
It’s a lot of sizzle with no steak, all style and attitude but no real energy or flair. Scott is using the same tricks that were tired in his last film, Man on Fire, and what makes us tired, too, is the way he expects us to think it all means something.
There are brief glints of something more, thanks to a script co-written by Richard Kelly (Donnie Darko). The narration explains that the one place everyone has to go through is the DMV, which means that the world is run by “sassy black women.” We meet one of them, Lateesha (Mo’Nique Imes-Jackson) as she is putting the finishing touch on fingernails as intricate as an illuminated manuscript, looking past them at her next customer with infinite contempt. Lateesha (who later identifies herself as a “Blacktina” and as the world’s youngest minority grandmother) will turn out to have more to do with that situation in the trailer with the tv set and the severed arm than we think.
Less successful is the attempt to be searingly provocative about such over-worked topics as our fascination with celebrity (two Beverly Hills 90210 alums either get props for being good sports or are way too desperate for jobs or money).
It’s loud, it goes on too long, it never makes us care about the title character or about what happens to her, and its uneven tone and pacing make the violence seem excessive and distracting and literal overkill. A diversion into reality television would be a complete waste of time except that it includes the two best performances in the movie, from Christopher Walken and Mena Suvari who counterpunch with clever underplaying and make everyone else look even sillier and more shrill. A last minute redemption and reconciliation are insincere and unsupported. The movie is loud and empty, and I don’t mean sort of.
Parents should know that this is a very violent movie, with intense and graphic fighting, gunplay, and explosions. A man’s arm is hacked off and characters are wounded and killed. Characters smoke, drink, and use drugs. They also use very strong language. The film includes nudity and sexual references and situations, porn, a lap dance, and scenes in a strip club.
Families who see this movie should talk about the appeal of the bounty hunter life for a young woman raised in Beverly Hills and about the movie’s perspective on “celebrity.”
Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the better Once Upon a Time in Mexico and Get Shorty.