Loosely based on the life of Domino Harvey, a girl who rejected a privileged lifestyle to become a bounty hunter, the highly stylized Domino is long and convoluted. But it's also fairly compelling.
As the daughter of a famous British actor and socialite mom, Domino's story really isn't anything we haven't heard before; she's the little rich girl who rebels against her pampered upbringing. But it's the way in which Domino (Keira Knightley) rebels that makes it fascinating. Bounty hunting? What could be further away from champagne wishes and caviar dreams than that? With a shotgun in her hand, the job is just what the adrenaline junkie needs. Along with her for the ride is her fellow adventurers, veteran hunter Ed (Mickey Rourke) and wild-card Choco (Edgar Ramirez), who become her new family. But, of course, it can't all be fun and games. One job goes bad and suddenly everything turns into a bloody mess.
Knightley may reinvent her look--wear blue paint (King Arthur), put on a corset (Pirates of the Caribbean)--but she's still basically playing the same spitfire in all her movies. And, as Domino, she spits with the best of them; it's not much of a stretch. Right next to her is Rourke, who's having a great year with this and Sin City. As the grizzled Ed, the actor does what he does best--play someone hardened by life who can still be vulnerable and appreciate the finer things in life. The real find in Domino is Ramirez. The Venezuelan actor, making his American debut, simply smolders as the tortured Choco, whose feelings for Domino run way deep--deep enough to blow someone's arm off. Don't ask.
Director Tony Scott (Man on Fire) became fascinated with Domino--the daughter of British actor Laurence Harvey--10 years ago when he met her and hatched a plan to turn her life into a movie. Little did he know he'd become a surrogate father, trying to steer her from a self-destructive path, to no avail. In June, the real-life Domino was found dead of an apparent overdose of painkillers. Although Domino had already wrapped, this last bit of irony taints the film, which takes many liberties with real events. Scott grabs you at first with a dark, moody and inventive tone, but then all the fancy camerawork starts to grate, especially in the last chapter when all goes awry. Then it just tries too hard to be twisty and cool.
Domino is definitely a troubled film. It's muddled and too hip for its own good. But the true story behind Domino Harvey's life is a fascinating character study nonetheless.