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.

Film Review: Headhunters

Based on Jo Nesbø’s novel, Headhunters is implausible but tremendous fun. Morten Tyldum’s crime thriller is highly recommended.

Roger Brown is a successful headhunter who lives in a swish apartment with his beautiful wife. In order to afford their extravagant lifestyle, Roger steals valuable portraits from clients, replacing them with forgeries. When he meets ex-mercenary Clas Greve at his wife’s art gallery, Roger thinks he has found his next target…

Morten Tyldum directs Headhunters with deftness. Action scenes are suitably frantic, and the film maintains a steady pace throughout. Although Headhunters can be tense at times, there is an underlying irreverence to the film. The action sequences never lose their sense of frivolity, despite a certain brutality to them.

Headhunters is a heady mix of creativity and predictability. There are some highly amusing moments in the film. Most will pick up the clues to see where the ending is going. This is not too much of a detraction, as Tyldum retains the fun factor. The central character Roger is fallible in his insecurities. He appears inferior to nemesis Clas in terms of looks and success; in this way he is more of an every man despite his questionable morals.

Headhunters offers sleek production values and cinematography. Performances are decent all around Aksel Hennie and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau are well cast as Roger and Clas; both are sufficiently believable in the roles. Headhunters is recommended fro those who like their thrillers tinged with humour.

Headhunters is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2011.