The Hunt For The Worst Movie Of All Time: Domino

This week’s nominee, Domino, is loosely based on the life of an actual human being named Domino Harvey (sure, very real name, yes), who was the daughter of an Oscar-nominated actor named Laurence Harvey. Domino shunned (SHUNNED!) her wealthy Hollywood background to become a bounty hunter in South Central, Los Angeles. Fair enough. That is a perfectly reasonable idea for a movie, I guess. They’ve certainly made movies about worse subjects. Although they have rarely made worse movies. Tragically, she died before the movie was released of a methamphetamine overdose. The only silver lining to her death is that she never had to actually see this thing. Unless they have movie theaters in heaven, but we can’t know that for sure, and one would hope that the angel manager would make better decisions about what to screen. “Where am I, a movie theater in hell?” That is what an angel would ask if they showed this movie in heaven. What I’m trying to say is: YIKES.

Anyway, in the movie, Domino (Keira Knightly, AKA Strike One!) has been arrested by the FBI, or whatever it is called when the FBI takes you in. Is it still called being arrested? Abducted? Contained? Anyway, Lucy Liu is interrogating her about the disappearance of 10 million dollars from an armored truck, and the rest of the movie is basically Domino’s story from how she got involved with bounty hunting in the first place to what she knows about the money’s disappearance. And it is also where the whole movie starts to fall apart. Because right from the start, the movie is filled with the voice over narration that is supposed to be her story to the FBI, but she keeps saying stuff like “This is my friend Choco.” That is not how you tell someone a story, because when you are telling a story you do not have epileptic-seizure-inducing jumpcuts with knock-off Tarantino freeze-frames w/ subtitles. Sometimes they even combine their lazy, borrowed pop culture references with actual racism!

They call this Afghani man “ALF” because they can’t pronounce his name. LOL?

Domino used to be a model (except even in real life that may not be true? Which makes it double untrue in a movie adaptation of a real life?) but she hated 90210? The show? So she decided to become a bounty hunter? Because one time at the pool she was goofing with some nunchucks? OK, now she is a bounty hunter, because when you throw a knife through Mickey Rourke’s windshield he makes you a bounty hunter. It’s called Career Path.

Not a real thing that has ever existed.

Here’s the thing: starting in 2004, the entertainment world went on a bit of a bounty hunter kick. There was Family Bonds on HBO, which was great btw, and Dog: The Bounty Hunter on A&E, both of which premiered in 2004. But this movie came out in 2005. What I’m saying is that by the time this movie came out, we already knew how bounty hunters worked. That veil had been lifted. So how are you going to have a gang of bounty hunters SEVERING PEOPLE’S ARMS and GIVING DRUG DEALERS LAP DANCES and SHOOTING GUNS LIKE CRAZY? There are still laws in this world, and bounty hunters are subject to those laws. So basically within the first five minutes we already know that we are dealing with a movie built entirely of garbage violent fantasies ripped off from other movies (see knock-off Tarantino freeze-frames w/ subtitles).

At one point, a woman gets revenge on the bounty hunters by putting scoops (SCOOPS!) of mescaline into a thermos of coffee. But this is not a message about the dangers of violence, or severing people’s arms for no reason, or the consequences of mescaline abuse. It’s just an opportunity for the movie to have a trip-sequence that ends with the RV flipping over in the air:

without causing any injuries whatsoever, followed by A GRAPHIC SEX SCENE…

capped off by A VISIT FROM TOM WAITS!

I hope they paid Mr. Waits enough money to drill some new hobo holes into the bottoms of his trash shoes, because COME ON, EVERYONE INVOLVED.

I’m not even going to dignify this movie with a thoughtful and complete synopsis of the movie’s plot, because the movie’s plot is an asshole. Let’s just say that they never let the 90210 thing go, even though it never really made sense in the first place? And I know that director Tony Scott thought he was making some kind of CULTURAL COMMENTARY by having Brian Austen Green and Ian Ziering in the movie, but he wasn’t.

After a firefight in a Las Vegas hotel, which includes people firing automatic weapons into bags loaded with bombs (don’t ask) without setting those bombs off (I’m not a bomb expert, but I guess I am a bomb expert, because even I know that NO) Domino Harvey escapes to safety (remember: guns everywhere) IN AN ELEVATOR. Going down? At one point, Domino tells Lucy Liu, who is a professional FBI agent, that Lucy Liu is just jealous of her because she is coming into her own, while Lucy Liu is stuck in her boring office job. What? Her boring office job of being AN FBI AGENT in charge of INTERROGATING SUSPECTS? I know that we all hate The Man, but we know that The Man is not jealous of us, right? The Man is doing great. He is in charge. Of everything.

Then she says “tonight it will be my pussy you are dreaming of.” GET OUT THE GRAVESTONE ETCHER, BECAUSE I AM DEAD (FROM SUICIDE) AND I KNOW WHAT I WANT IT TO SAY NOW.

Ugh. The movie’s entire emotional core revolves around how when Domino was a kid she had a goldfish and it died and that’s how she learned never to get attached to anything. Right. Not only is that obviously just junior high caliber bullcrap, it’s NOT EVEN TRUE IN THE MOVIE. She always travels with a goldfish (normal) and has a goldfish tattoo on her neck. To remind her that she doesn’t care about goldfish/human beings? Or is that she cares too much? Is that the point of the whole movie? Oh my gosh, I think I just realized that–oh wait, no, nope. It was nothing.

Domino also features an entire subplot about reality TV? Of course it does. Reality TV! So hot right now! This movie clearly wishes it was an important movie full of interesting ideas about The Way We Live Now, which makes sense, because it was written by Richard Kelly (Donnie Darko, Southland Tales, The Box) who has a college-freshman-after-eating-his-first-pot-brownie’s concept of what makes things interesting. His movies are subpar O’Henry short stories, but not even the award winning ones. He is an O’Henry runner-up. Wouldn’t it be neat if there was a guy wearing a scary bunny mask on the other side of a mirror you could touch? I don’t know, would it, DOCTOR HIGHTIMES? Oh, wait, no, I just got a call from Earth, and everyone except confused high school students with too much time to update their MySpace Interests agreed that it was not.

Oh look, Jerry Springer! Very topical!

This movie also puts Mickey Rourke and M’onique’s careers back into perspective.

Enjoy your Serious Town credibility now, you guys. The line that you are walking between Great and Awful is razor-thin. Almost as thin as the line that Kiera Knightly is walking between looking like a man and looking like a woman!

In two weeks: Serendipity. As always, please leave your suggestions in the comments or in an email. And if you haven’t done so already, please consult the Official Rules.