04 November 2022

52 for '22: Domino

MovieDomino (2005)
Method: HBOMax

Why Did I watch this?

Haha, alright. I've seen some bad movies in this whole go around in my attempt to catch up on the pop culture of 20 - 40 years ago. I remember getting pumped up for Domino when it came out because it was in that early super hero boom after like the X-Men movies and Daredevil (2003) and I totally thought it was this Domino. That's not all THAT outrageous, right? Like there were a lot of these kinds of movies like Punisher (2004) coming out at the time and it wasn't that crazy to think that there'd be a mercenary Domino movie.

To be honest, I thought this made a bigger splash in pop culture, but it only made like $23 million at the time and was a huge bomb. I just remember thinking about Domino a lot in 2005 and I had always missed it. UNTIL TODAY.

What Did I know ahead of time?
It was peak Keira Knightly after the Pirates movies and King Arthur (2004). I watched that this year, too. What a year to catch up on bad Keira Knightly movies, huh? I knew she was a bounty hunter and yes, I did know that it was based on Domino Harvey, not Domino of X-Force. Much weaker, in my opinion. I knew it wasn't critically lauded or a long lost hidden gem or anything, but quite frankly, I didn't think it'd be this bad.

How Was It?

Oh it's that bad. I also recently just watched director Tony Scott's first film, The Hunger (1983) and his trademark really does seem to be story obfuscation by way of incomprehensible stylization. I don't know how this dude made Top Gun (1986), which plays things relatively straight. The Last Boy Scout (1991) is part of his catalogue, so that makes sense.

I mean, Keira's pretty good, you can tell she's giving it her all. This movie is so bad she shows her titties and still no one watched this in the years of peak Knightly. I kept thinking throughout this film about how much the actors were trying but the camera kept zinging past their faces, moving in circles, having washed out color, and constant, constant cuts. It's baffling how badly this was edited. More on that later.

Keira is good but it feels like she's hardly in this movie. It's the kind of film where we're constantly told how good she is but rarely shown it. It also oggles her hardcore. She achieves her first bounty by stripping for the perp and the male gaze never lets up. She gets catcalled in the movie, which is not indicted, and even the HBOMax description frames the plot as "The story of how Keira Knightly became the sexiest bounty hunter in the world. It's lurid and insane and very very mid-2000s.

This might be the most mid-2000s movie ever. It's somehow washed in more green and yellows than Swordfish (2001). It's all grimy, the alt-rock needle drops are extremely high and there are plenty of off color jokes and side characters made up of racial stereotypes. It is a Michael Bay imitator but without the scope or explosioncraft. It's bad. It's really bad.

I've never watched a movie that was trying so damn hard to be interesting while also being the most conventional movie ever. The plot was meaningless obscured, there is a wrap-around story as well as an origin story, and then another wrap-around story. I timed the inciting incident at around the 50 minute mark of the 127 minute run time. It's really hard to sink your teeth into this film when it spends sooo much time treading water to get to what the plot is actually about. And when it's there there is double-crossing, mistaken identities, complex money schemes, and a Christopher Walken-lead reality TV show. It's a lot.

See, even a movie like Inception (2010) that has a famously intricate plot actually has a really simple controlling idea. Influence this guy through his dream so that Leo can reunite with his family. Done. I can't sum up Domino, man. This really could have used a Dredd (2012)-like laser focused 90 minute run time, in and out with some simple, fun, character-driven action.

The movie tries extremely hard to prevent you from understanding whatever the incomprehensible plot is. This has one of the worst editing and cinematography jobs of any movie in history. There is no room to breathe, no pacing, constant cuts on still images, multiple cuts in one scene while it's all washed in dark (and unmotivated) lighting and hardcore edge. Lucy Liu is in the opening for some reason, but you can't actually tell it's her because the entire upper half of her face isn't lit. It's a sloppy, sloppy hack job.

The cast is insane, by the way. Lucy Liu, Chris Walken, Mena Suvari, Mickey Rourke, Oscar Winner Mo'Nique, and Macy Gray for some reason. See, Macy Gray was in Spider-Man (2002), it's not that crazy that this would be a superhero film! Also Edgar Ramirez, who isn't really a big name or anything. They all do great. Tom Waits! What is Tom Waits doing here? Do they all owe Tony Scott money or something, why is this cast here. They deserved such a better movie!

I can't help picturing what this would have been like if it was handed to like a 2014 David Leitch or something. He DID direct Zazie Beetz as Domino in Deadpool 2. It all comes together. Anyway, this movie is not good, there's a reason why these have become obscure and forgotten cultural artifacts and I really should stop blowing my freebies on this.

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