Film Review: Domino

Brian De Palma’s Domino is a curious little thriller. The narrative suggests a serious tone, which is contradicted by the style. 

Detectives Christian and his long-time partner Lars attempt to apprehend a suspect, but something goes wrong. Christian wants revenge for his critically injured partner, but terrorists and the CIA have other ideas…

Domino is a by-the-numbers thriller, focusing on that familiar avenging a fallen partner strand. Here, the action takes place in Copenhagen, with Christian attempting to uncover the web that is behind the criminal who has gravely injured his partner. The film gives a contemporary twist by involving the perpetrator with an ISIS cell in Europe. Screenwriter Petter Skavlan’s narrative is not particularly illuminating however. There is little to no nuance to most of the characters, with the antagonists appearing especially one dimensional. 

Moreover, the direction that the narrative takes is not particularly gripping. The presence of the CIA seems only there to paint the organisation in a bad light, as justifiable as this may be. As Christian and Alex track the perpetrators, the tension that should be present is absent. The twist gives an interesting angle, but the characters have not been sufficiently developed to move the audience. 

At odds with the serious plot is the style of Domino. A director known for his flair, Brian De Palma’s choices here certainly are interesting. The frequent cuts zooming ever closer to objects gives the film an overblown air. This coupled with the intrusive score makes the film feel more like a parody than a serious thriller. By juxtaposing a playful style with a serious plot, it is unclear what De Palma was hoping to achieve. Coupled with a bizarre climax, the film is a tonal mess. 

Domino features some very good actors, yet their performances are lacking here. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau seems ill at ease in the leading role, and Carice van Houten fails to convince. Guy Pearce meanwhile delivers an almost comical turn. 

Domino is undoubtedly one of De Palma’s worst efforts. Hopefully it is a blip in an otherwise commendable tenure.

Domino is available on DVD, Blu-Ray, and Digital HD from 5th August 2019.

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