Release Date: August 5th, 2019
Directed by: Brian De Palma
Brian De Palma (Scarface, The Untouchables), one of the great auteur directors of the modern era, returns with this heart-stopping revenge thriller. In a world wracked by terror and suspicion, police-officer Christian (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau: Game of Thrones) seeks justice for his partner's murder by ISIS member Imran. On the hunt for the killer, Christian and a fellow cop become caught in a dangerous game of cat and mouse with a duplicitous CIA agent, using Imran as a pawn to trap other ISIS members. Soon, Christian is racing against the clock -- not only seeking revenge but to save his own life. A thrilling race-against-time also starring Guy Pearce (L.A. Confidential) and Carice van Houten (Valkyrie, Game of Thrones).
Domino, directed Brian De Palma and his first movie since 2012's Passion, sadly isn't the return to form for the helmer we all hoped it would be. It’s more in the vain of those Eastern European shot movies that 80s and 90s action cats like Lundgren, Van Damme or Seagal appear in, that litter supermarket entertainment shelves every week. It has only a whiff of what made previous De Palma movies thrilling to watch.
Domino stars Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who most audiences will recognise from Game of Thrones, as Danish police officer Christian Toft who, with his partner Lars (Søren Malling), respond to a domestic incident in a block of flats, in the beautiful city of Copenhagen. It's during this incident that Ezra Tarzi, played with some menace by Eriq Ebouaney, slits Lars' throat and Christian chases Tarzi across a tiled roof. The cop falls and the ISIS member/CIA double agent is captured by Guy Pearce's suited government man to help track down the main terrorist ISIS leader, Salah Al-din, who's causing mayhem & chaos across Europe.
While Lars is fighting for his life in hospital Christian teams up fellow officer Alex played by Carice van Houten, also from the hit HBO Fantasy series G.O.T - in a role where she replaced Mad Men's Christina Hendricks - to track down the attacker through Europe, all the way to Almeria in Spain. Alex had been having an affair with Christian's partner Lars, so both have an emotional attachment to this case.
Even as a fan of Brian De Palma, I’ve been obsessed with his work since seeing Blow Out and Raising Cain in my late teens - which lead to a deeper dive into his movies and recognising his love Hitchcock films - Domino was hard to sit through because of the sheer number of clichés that ran through the script (by Petter Skavlan) and the fact the film desperately tries to be topical but comes across as very dated.
The two leads Coster-Waldau and Van Houten are very bland, both adding nothing to the movie and only seem to have been cast as a marketing tool. I did enjoy Guy Pearce as a CIA agent with his sense of menace and thick American accent, which veers into comedic at some points. The portrayal of the terrorists in the film is so over the top they wouldn't look out of place in Team America: World Police! with only Eriq Ebouaney's Tarzi given minimal character moments because of the threat Pierce's character is imposing on his wife and two children.
There are some flashes of the Brian De Palma that fans of his work will admire. The roof top chase, which references Hitchcock's Vertigo, and the bull ring ending/suicide bomber sequence scored to Ravel's "Bolero" by Pino Donaggio. It's music that would be better suited in an ice rink rather than a half empty stadium and it’s another sign of how woefully underfunded this multi-country production was, along with the extremely cheap looking CGI. However, there is an unintentionally funny death by drone - so that's a positive bobbing on the sea of negatives which Domino splashes about in.
Then there are sequences that don't entirely work, such as the Dutch Film Festival incident where a female terrorist guns down various people before blowing herself up. We are introduced to her so matter-of-factly, that her sacrifice is throw away and doesn't have any emotional weight. It's filmed through the notion of it being live streamed for propaganda purposes but feels like your Grandfather trying out FaceTime for the first time.
Domino was equal parts endurance test and crushing disappointment. As a fan of the De Palma who gave filmgoers Carrie, Dressed To Kill, The Untouchables and Carlito's Way there's no way that Domino, a Euro-pudding hack job, should be his last movie. I'll hold out hope he gets to make another great film so this isn’t his Osterman Weekend.
Region Code: B
Picture Format: HD 1080p 1.85:1
Running Time: 89 Mins Approx
Domino released by Signature Entertainment available on DVD, Blu Ray and Digital Now