So as you know, the death of Tony Scott seems to have hit a nerve with me. I'm probably as guilty as anyone of taking him for granted while he was alive. In two previous posts, I've tried to atone for that now that he's dead, because in looking at his legacy I've begun to appreciate what he actually accomplished.
This time I'm focusing on a single film, 2005's Domino. This was actually one of those movies I was always meaning to watch, admittedly mostly because of my ongoing obsession with Keira Knightley, although later because it was another link in the chain of Mickey Rourke's comeback.
Now that I've seen it, Domino is clearly Tony's effort to make another True Romance, an indy-style and which is to say a Quentin Tarantino style flick. More personal isn't really the way to phrase it, but more intimate, a clearer portrait of a life that's a little screwed up.
The life in question belongs to Domino Harvey, daughter of the late actor Lawrence Harvey, who somehow ended up becoming a bounty hunter. For most critics (saying that there was ever any other kind of audience for Domino is probably being generous), none of it made sense. It makes perfect sense. Tony deliberately uses footage from Lawrence Harvey's performance in The Manchurian Candidate as a counterpoint to Domino's life. Domino herself explains how she ended up becoming a bounty hunter, rather explicitly, a direct reaction to her loss of faith in the world, facilitated by a father who died early and a mother who made decisions that made no sense to Domino. There's a running gag about Beverly Hills 90210, and two of the actors from the show even end up becoming a part of the story.
For Domino, life only started having meaning when she quit worrying about it. (She died in real life not long before the release of the movie.) She rejected the very culture that modern society seems to have embraced in earnest (see: the Kardashians, everyone's obsession over the royal wedding last year). Bounty hunters are a uniquely modern version of law enforcement. They're our cowboys, samurais. The funny thing is, Hollywood has pretty much stayed away from them. Maybe that's thanks to Dog. (Thanks Dog!) So Domino is unique as a rare glimpse into that world.
Yes, it's extremely unconventional (at least at the time; Joe Carnahan did this movie on steroids in Smokin' Aces), highly stylized. Some critics seem to think these are cardinal sins. Well, as I said, this was Tony trying to make a more Tarantino style of movie after his experience with True Romance. He made it nonlinear, which Tarantino's script for Romance had been and Tony had deliberately undone. More than a decade later, he made good. It's worth noting that he was trying to make Domino for a decade. The dude knew when to take a hint. Some people actually wanted to see Domino. When he actually made it, those same people forgot. That's the kind of career Tony had. He just couldn't get any respect.
Knightley is gnarly in the movie, and Rourke is typically awesome. I'd go so far as to say that if you want to understand what kind of actor he became versus whatever he'd been before he went back to boxing, then Domino is essential. Edgar Ramirez is the third lead, and Knightley's love interest, and he's got exactly the look Gerard Butler had in several of his movies before hitting big with 300. Actually, it's the same one Russell Crowe had in The Quick and the Dead. Sadly, Domino is probably going to define Edgar's career for English speaking audiences, but it's a good way to be remembered. Also, Lucy Liu is in it. Lucy Liu is the mark that a movie is worth noting.
Long story short, Domino was worth the wait. I kept hesitating because I didn't know what to expect. When I finally settled myself down and realized what kind of filmmaker Tony Scott was, I stopped avoiding it. Thank goodness.