Hippo Manchester
October 20, 2005

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Domino (R)
by Amy Diaz

Keira Knightley gets to wear butch clothes, shoot things and use the F-word a lot in Domino, an action movie that might help to save her from the corset typecast.

After all, her role in Pirates of the Caribbean, action-packed though it was, included a lot of girlie attire, as will her forthcoming role in Pride & Prejudice. Perhaps she hoped that an interlude of violence and naughty words would keep her from becoming too tied to the costume drama.

Domino Harvey (Knightley) is about as actiony as it gets for female movie stars. Harvey (who, in real life, was the daughter of an actor and a model, herself became a model and then a bounty hunter and recently died in Las Vegas) rebels against the posh life her mother (Jacqueline Bisset) attempts to build by seeking out the seedy underbelly of Los Angeles. Expelled from college for hazing, back when her sorority sisters tried to haze her, Domino decides her love of violence and a tough-chick attitude would serve her best in the bounty hunter occupation. She falls in with Ed (Mickey Rourke) and Choco (Edgar Ramirez), two men who are attracted to her and respect her (or, are attracted to her and amused by her — we’re never really sure which).

Narrated by a law enforcement agent (Lucy Liu), Domino’s tale unfolds as one of corruption within corruption. Though she tries to stay just this side of the line that divides legal from illegal, Domino finds herself squarely in the criminal world when a job turns out to involve a mobster’s sons, his money and several layers of FBI investigation. And then there’s the reality television show, featuring the likes of Brian Austin Green and Ian Ziering, which brings a Hollywood shine (or is that a shiny layer of sleaze?) to the whole operation.

Here’s the rhythm of this movie: Domino swears, then there’s some shooting, then some running and/or fighting, then something blows up. Then, a pause for some sort of witty comment. Then the cycle begins again. Punching up the action for us is an assortment of wacktacular camera angles, some double-takes of certain shots, some fancy work with the lighting and some loud music. The movie feels, at times, like an ad for some sort of extra-caffeinated Mountain Dew mutation, complete with that same feeling of nausea that sometimes comes with too much Dew.

Parts of this movie are self-consciously funny, specifically anything with the hamming-it-up-for-all-it’s-worth Green and Ziering. And Knightley appears to be having the time of her life. Like the Xtreme Doritos and over-hyped sports drink its camera work brings to mind, Domino is pure junk. And, like the occasional handful of cheez-flavored chips or high fructose corn syrup-intensive drink, Domino is pure junky fun.