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With: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Carice van Houten, Guy Pearce, Eriq Ebouaney, Søren Malling, Paprika Steen, Thomas W. Gabrielsson, Mohammed Azaay
Written by: Petter Skavlan
Directed by: Brian De Palma
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence, some language and brief nudity
Running Time: 89
Date: 05/31/2019

Domino (2019)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Fall Guy

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

With a troubled production and a thin story and characters, this latest from suspense veteran Brian De Palma doesn't rank with his best, but his still-masterful, bravura touches make it worth a look.

In Domino, Danish police officer Christian (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) is distracted by his lover on his way out the door and forgets his gun on the nightstand. He meets his partner Lars (Soren Malling) and they take a call. Christian discovers a bloody corpse and they grab a Libyan suspect, Imran (Eriq Ebouaney), who has blood on his shoes. Christian borrows Lars's gun to investigate further, and in his absence, Imran escapes and kills Lars. During the pursuit, Imran is taken by mysterious men in black.

Christian is suspended, but nonetheless begins seeking revenge with fellow officer Alex (Carice van Houten). Meanwhile, CIA man Joe Martin (Guy Pearce) has taken Imran's family hostage in order to use his connections to flush out members of ISIS. As Christian and Alex close in on their suspect, they find themselves involved in a terrifying showdown, as an ISIS suicide bomber prepares to take out a stadium full of bullfight fans.

Some sources suggest that Domino was intended to be much longer, and perhaps that movie would have fleshed out some of its more emotional and political aspects. This 89-minute version skimps a little on relationships and interactions between characters, and it also feels a tad irresponsible in its handling of an ISIS-related story as regular thriller material. On the plus side, it moves quickly, like a brisk "B" movie, and De Palma's skills in communicating through a purely visual, visceral cinematic form have not faded; he has few equals working today.

The sequence in which Christian leaves his gun behind, a rooftop chase, a red tomato motif, and uses of modern technology like photos on a phone and an airborne drone showcase De Palma's skills at their most skillful, and moreover, show that he's not afraid to change with the times. In one shocking sequence two cameras and split-screen are used to show an ISIS assassin's face as well as her targets simultaneously.

The troubled nature of the production, plus the fact that this is De Palma's first movie in seven years, since Passion, will lead many to conclude that he's an artist in decline. But history -- as well as the recent, celebratory documentary De Palma -- show that few of his works were ever appreciated upon first release, and Domino at least deserves a look.

Lionsgate's Blu-ray release is pretty bare-bones, but at least it offers a worthy video transfer and excellent audio, with optional English or Spanish subtitles. The only extras are a batch of trailers for other Lionsgate releases.

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