Domino Falls Down

I haven't seen a flick this bad in a long time. Not that Domino is necessarily a "movie" in the common sense; it seems that director Tony Scott has unabashedly returned to his advertising roots. Domino is an extended-length commercial, just like that Apple ad that Tony's brother Ridley made for the Super Bowl a while back. This Scott is shlepping something far prettier than computers, though: he's selling Keira Knightley.

Domino is so self-conscious, so fetishized, so patently calculated, that it's actually hard to watch. Did anyone get involved with this film because they honestly wanted to tell a compelling story, or was the entire affair concocted from the ground up simply because the notion of casting Knightley as a badass chick with machine guns seemed like a really good idea for the multiplexes? Domino is representative of the worst kind of Hollywood filmmaking: delivering a product before even attempting to think about a story.

The whole film reeks of the cool kids proclaiming "look at how cool we are." Lensed by Scott like a ferret whacked out on ju-jubes, Domino's pretty as hell, with an over-saturated, over-stylized visual palette that glows with the best kind of Photoshopping. The cuts come fast and furious, no shot lingering for more than a second, each set piece covered like a hip-hop music video, with jangling gold chains, glistening sweat on muscled bodies, and a cosmic freight-load of T&A.

It becomes a situation of not knowing what to be offended by first. The blatant misogyny inherent in letting Domino get out of her first jam by performing a lapdance for the ugly, mean little men who will shoot her if she under-performs? The astonishing moment of visceral racism when the film's ludicrous finale ends up revolving around an Arab's willingness to blow up a skyscraper? The fact that Domino's apotheosis as a character seems to come about when all the bad mommies, good mescaline, dirty boyfriends and dead goldfish cause her to realize that she really does care about someone, and must therefore go apeshit on a room full of people with a pair of automatic machine guns? Or the simple fact that one shot in two in this film has a character glamorizing cigarettes to a degree that would have the Marlboro Man himself reaching into his jeans to adjust himself?

Sure, there's fun amidst the rubble, with Ian Ziering and Brian Austin Green running around as themselves, post-90210, trying for a stab of renewed fame by chairing a reality series about Domino and her goons. And as the lead goon in question, Mickey Rourke is fabulous... but then, he's always fabulous. The trouble is that he, like just about everyone else, gets sidelined halfway through the picture, in favour of Ms. D herself. Too bad Domino can't fill the void.

Knightley was once anointed as the "sexiest tomboy beanpole on the planet," but nowadays she mostly just looks mean as a snake, and about as huggable as a ream of razor wire. Not that we should be judging the poor young woman solely on her looks, but the film is so ostentatious in its efforts to construct Knightley as a fetish icon rather than a thinking, breathing person - observe the glory shots of her exposed mons pubis above the ridge of her low-rider jeans, or the innumberable in-film comments on her lusciously biteable bootie - that it's difficult to talk about her work here in terms of performance. This is all a transparent effort at moviestar-making, and a poor one at that.

Your advertisement has failed, Mr. Scott: I'm not buying. It'll be a while yet before I'll want to see Knightley again in anything that doesn't feature a mascara-wearing Johnny Depp.

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