24th Jun2019

‘Domino’ Review

by Jak-Luke Sharp

Stars: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Carice van Houten, Guy Pearce, Søren Malling, Nicolas Bro, Eriq Ebouaney, Ella-June Henrard, Paprika Steen, Jacob Lohmann, Thomas W. Gabrielsson, Younes Bachir, Diem Camille G. | Written by Petter Skavlan | Directed by Brian De Palma


Brian De Palma, “sort of”, returns to cinematic screens with Domino after a seven-year hiatus after his Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace starring feature Passion, released in 2012. I say “sort of” because De Palma’s latest hasn’t had the most conventional release. Originally shot in 2017, Domino has had a tirade of troubles during post-production and has ultimately distanced himself from the final product. Leading to a very limited cinema release and landed without a thud on most On Demand services.

It’s a strange consequence from De Palma to cut ties with his feature because after viewing said film there isn’t much difference in the crafting of Domino from what the director has exhibited in his work in the last decade. It’s an empty, flat and clumsily directed thriller that feels more so a parody of his earlier work than a precise and convincing thriller that he intended to craft. The use of the camera here is horribly executed by De Palma and cinematographer José Luis Alcaine; and is convicted in a tiresome sense of style that elicits a woefully old fashioned and somewhat desperate aesthetic that’s twenty years behind cinematic standards. Failing to provoke any tension and atmosphere this film desperately needs to exercise due to the context of the film’s plot.

The film re-teams Game of Thrones stars Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Carice van Houten as Christian and Alex, respectively. Two Danish police officers who are embroiled in an international terrorist plot after a mutual officer is injured in the line of duty. The two have zero chemistry and the screenplay by Petter Skavlan is a walking talking disaster from start to finish. The character threads feel incomplete, incompatible and dull. How the film gets from A to B blurs with little intrigue or explanation. Granted, it’s fast paced but with that, there is so much integral character depth missing on the cutting room floor, forgotten about to fail in evoking the similar fast-paced action tone of James Bond and Jason Bourne. With that, the film blows every and all intimate character details that create a more immersive experience, especially that of van Houten’s character who has nothing to do throughout.

Admittedly, the politics within Domino are integral and intriguing, to say the least. De Palma to his credit doesn’t pick heroes and villains but more issues and problems from both sides. It’s clear that De Palma is trying to suggest that hate is a cyclical journey of which both sides provide to each other in fighting fire with fire. That being said De Palma is extremely heavy-handed on the brutality of extremist terrorism. Especially in the usage of intense POV style shots that engulf the screen. If you thought the opening of Sicario 2 was a glib experience, it has nothing on this. Considering how the film develops and how lacklustre the film’s use of such a heavy theme is, the thematic and filmmaking practice sadly stimulates devilishly inept and unavoidable sadism for the audience. Instead of a poignant reflection of its tragedy.

Domino comes direct to DVD in the UK on August 5th, it’s also currently available on demand.


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