DVD Review – Domino (2019)

No, not the woefully underrated post-modern masterwork of the late Tony Scott, but the new Brian De Palma film?! Well, kind of the new Brian De Palma film… he is on record as saying this film was his worst experience in the perils of modern filmmaking. There are conflicting reports as to whether it’s his final cut, but if you want the film’s 85 minutes, it’s pretty obvious it was taken away from him. Allegedly he put together a 148-minute cut. 

Domino was all shot in Spain and Denmark, where the film is primarily set. Christian Toft (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) is a Danish cop, and after a chase very reminiscent of Vertigohis partner gets his neck slit by the ISIS terrorist Ezra Tarzi (Eriq Ebouaney). Ezra, whom they were following, is actually a double agent for the CIA, and his superior officer is CIA agent Joe Martin (Guy Pearce). Soon Christian and his ex-partner Alex (Carice van Houten) are on the lookout for justice for the fallen cop. 

De Palma is way more interested in the terrorism aspect of the story, and the best sequence in the entire film is a sublime moment where there is a terrorist attack at a film festival… a satirical statement on film festivals, perhaps? It’s all depicted as being live-streamed on the Internet, and it’s so obvious that this was the movie that interested De Palma, not this routine and rushed cop/CIA/conspiracy thriller. The film even ends on another live-stream of terrorism. 
 
It’s a complete misfire from one of the masters of modern cinema, someone who perhaps shaped the minds of young filmmakers more than any of the other Movie Brats, so it’s sad to see him stoop so low. De Palma may have not made a solid film since The Black Dahliabut at least his previous effort, 2012’s Passion, was clearly “a Brian De Palma,” for better or worse. By contrast, Domino seems like a Eurotrash thriller made by a clone of Brian De Palma—even the bullring climax is like a bad parody of earlier De Palma set-pieces. The cast is abysmal except for Guy Pearce, who hams it up a bit as the crooked CIA agent. If you are a De Palma fanatic it’s an obvious must-see, but don’t expect much (though at least it’s better than Redacted!)  

 

★★

Ian Schultz

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