Film Reviews: Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Starring Keira Knightley and Mickey Rourke. Directed by Tony Scott. Written by Richard Kelly. Rated R.
The Harvey Girl

Following this Domino’s game to the end is a waste of time.


As you may know, there really was a Domino Harvey. The daughter of the English actor Laurence Harvey, she worked briefly as a model with the prestigious Ford Agency before making a radical career change and becoming a Los Angeles bounty hunter, tracking down drug dealers and murderers. The movie named after her arrives three months after its real-life subject was found dead in her bathtub of a drug overdose at age 35. (You can see her briefly during the end credits.) It makes no bones about heavily fictionalizing Harvey’s already sensational life; a title card at the beginning reads “Based on a True Story ... Sort Of.” Everything looks in place for a hallucinatory cocktail of minor celebrity and cheap thrills, like George Clooney and Charlie Kaufman’s Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. Sadly, it never happens.

The movie begins with a bloodied, bandaged Domino (Keira Knightley) being interrogated by an FBI psychologist (Lucy Liu) about her role in an incident that has left the top floor of a Las Vegas resort hotel in smoldering ruins. Domino’s story is extraordinarily convoluted, but basically, she and her fellow bounty hunters have been made pawns in an extortion scheme set up by their financially desperate bail-bondsman employer (Delroy Lindo), who’s trying to use his other business, an armored car service, to bilk some mobsters out of $10 million.

The movie boasts a script by Richard Kelly (better known as the writer-director of the cult fave Donnie Darko) and a crazily eclectic supporting cast: Mickey Rourke, Christopher Walken, Jacqueline Bisset, Mo’Nique, Macy Gray, Dabney Coleman, Mena Suvari, and Jerry Springer, not to mention former Beverly Hills 90210 stars Brian Austin Green and Ian Ziering, playing themselves as conceited careerist idiots who become hostages in the criminal plot. It sounds like fun, and occasionally it is, especially when the bounty hunters misunderstand their employer’s directions due to cell phone interference and remove a low-level mobster’s arm from his body, to Brian and Ian’s horror.

However, director Tony Scott (a personal friend of the real Domino) isn’t equal to this task. His editing is terminally disjointed, and he relentlessly favors an overexposed look that makes you want to go home and stare at a blank wall. His visual style makes Knightley look unattractive, and there’s no making up for that, not even by having her get naked late in the film. As for the lead actress, she has precisely one scene where she shows some real angry spark, when she demands a job from future boss Rourke after throwing a knife through his windshield. Everywhere else, though, she’s miscast as a thrill-seeking bad girl. Her delivery of Domino’s sexual taunt aimed at the FBI lady has no sting, which is a disastrous slip-up in the presence of the formidable Liu, who looks as mightily unimpressed as we are. The right star and director could have made Domino into a sugar rush of a thriller. Instead, its fitful bursts of life give way to a general exhaustion.

One other thing: The costumes in this movie are by B. I don’t have anything to say about the costumes. I just thought I’d point out the designer’s single-letter name.

You can reach Kristian Lin at

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