A "biopic" of Brit ex-pat Domino Harvey who, bored with her life as a model, became a bounty hunter. She and her two co-workers pursue their prey while being followed by reality TV cameras. When an associate tries to pull a fast one to raise emergency cash, she ends up in an interrogation room, recounting her tale.
Nobody shoots and cuts quite like Tony Scott. Now in his 60s, the man has enough panache to burn off any of Hollywood’s new top guns. So long as he’s armed with a strong narrative, you’re guaranteed a good time, regardless of how over-the-top he goes. In theory then, the pairing of Scott and Donnie Darko scribe Richard Kelly should make for an intriguing soundclash, but in practice, once you pile Scott’s visual jazz on top of Kelly’s post-modern pop culture riffs, the end product is too often simply noise.
On the upside, the details work well. Individual sequences are all impeccably assembled, Rourke’s grizzled vet chips in some memorable deadpan dialogue and there’s a scene involving a shoulder joint that might just qualify as the “holy shit!” moment of the year. But like the playing pieces of the title, these sequences are balanced precariously — close but never exactly strung together by the script — and it only requires one of them to fall to send all of the others crashing down.
Fair enough, from the get-go Scott backs away from asserting that this is anything like an honest biopic, which should leave us free to enjoy the ride, but the scattershot screenplay also makes life very tough for Knightley (hot but not hard) in the title role. The assorted veterans fare better in supporting parts — Mickey Rourke wears bounty-hunting boss Ed Moseby like a comfortable leather jacket, and Delroy Lindo makes the most of his limited screen time as a shonky bail bondsman. The standout, though, is Walken, who waltzes into the entertaining second act as a “reality TV producer” and single-handedly makes us forget we were half-way through a “sort of” biopic.
Alas, Walken’s thin plot-thread soon unravels, and for her third act Domino — both the woman and the movie — morphs again, into a metaphysical morality tale with delusions of grandeur. Scott tries to snatch our attention back with a big gun battle, but bizarrely it’s just a photocopy of True Romance’s climax. Ultimately, nothing here bring us any closer to Domino, and you begin to wonder if Scott would have been a better choice for a standard treatment of the same subject.
Always best when stretching a tight-fit script, Scott never looks comfy in a baggy screenplay that has too many ideas and not enough discipline. Messy, then, but still fitful fun.