Bright Lights Film Journal

Tony Scott’s Domino: Too Dumb to Write About? Not Entirely!

Strong violence, pervasive language, sexual content/nudity and drug use

I admit it. I am a sucker for films with pervasive language. In fact, the more pervasive it is, the more I like it.1

That’s why Domino, Tony Scott’s latest nothin’ but attitude high-gloss, no-heart thriller, was such a let-down. I mean, the language was pervasive, but it wasn’t, you know, pervasive.

I also admit that I will watch just about anything with Lucy Liu in it,2 and the thought of dear Lucy engaging in a little chick-on-chick action with newly minted uber-babe Keira Knightley — or at least the two of them washing a car together — was a pretty potent draw all on its own. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. La Luce spends the whole pic wearing a suit and seated at a desk, listening to poor little rich girl Domino (Knightley) tell her tale of suffering and transcendence in a series of flashbacks.3 The dialogue gets a little pervasive at times — when they exchange wisecracks about their pussies, for example — but as for actually seeing their pussies, well, forget it, dude. It ain’t in the picture.

What does happen in the picture? Well, Keira smokes up a storm and gives attitude to just about everything that moves, including sorority presidents, FBI agents, snotty, fashion-model mothers, reality-TV honchos, bratty corporate assistants, big business men, Mafia shitheads, and other assorted dumb fucks, but that’s about it. Oh, and a guy gets his arm shot off, which is kind of gross, but you hardly get to see it. And to say that this picture has no heart is way too harsh. In fact, this picture is a big fan of goldfish, dogs,4 little black kids dying of rare diseases, fat, sassy black women, fat, semi-sassy Hispanic gay guys, and starving orphans in Afghanistan,5 not to mention Laurence Harvey.

The one bright spot of Domino is what one can only call the rehabilitation of Mickey Rourke. I more or less hated the Mickster throughout his career, dismissing him as a supremely self-involved prick. But now he seems to have mellowed — into an easy-going, self-indulgent prick. I don’t know if those musculos masculos y mas grande he’s sporting are real — they look like the same ones Horatio Sanz wears when he’s doing Aaron Neville on Saturday Night Live — but, swanking around in a black wife-beater and sporting a Mojave Desert tan, Mickey looks a lot more like a human being than he ever has before. So drugs and booze can build character!

  1. In fact, I even like the word “pervasive.” I mean, it’s got two “v’s” in it. How cool is that? []
  2. Anything except Kill Bill 1, in which poor Luce got the top of her head sliced off. I’m interested in her body, not her brains. []
  3. The scenes between Knightley and Liu were probably shot in less than a week, with no set or costume changes — a cheap way to get a major-league babe in the credits, if not in the plot. []
  4. When I was recording secretary for the Northwest Fiction Writers Group, back in the day, we used to have a rule that, no matter what mayhem or degradation you inflicted on human beings, you could not kill a dog. I’m glad to see that Tony Scott adheres to this rule. In the beginning of the flick, we see Keira and her pals open fire with sawed-off shotguns on the guard dog of some trailer-park hag. The blasts rip a hole in the floor of the trailer and the dog disappears, but then Tony gives us a brief shot of Fido racing away unharmed. []
  5. The very end of Domino shows a bunch of starving Afghan kids going ape shit over a couple of bales of money, sent to them courtesy of Domino and the gang. Of course, having a wad of greenbacks in Afghanistan isn’t likely to get you anything more than a bullet between the eyes courtesy of a local drug lord, but it makes a great visual. []