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  Domino Danish Waste-ry
Year: 2019
Director: Brian De Palma
Stars: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Carice van Houten, Eriq Ebouaney, Guy Pearce, Søren Malling, Paprika Steen, Thomas W. Gabrielsson, Ilias Addab, Mohammed Azaay, Emrin Dalgic, Jay Pothof, Fabienne Payet, Ardalan Esmaili, Sachli Gholamalizad, Hamid Krim
Genre: ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 2 votes)
Review: Danish cop Christian Toft (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) thought he had a close relationship with his police partner Lars (Søren Malling), hanging out at each other's homes, spending as much time off together as they did at work, and so on. But a small mistake that snowballed into a major incident has set the cat among the pigeons, as they were both called away from their respective beds to attend a suspicious set of circumstances in a Copenhagen apartment block, and Christian forgot his gun. Because of this, he had to borrow Lars's to investigate an upper room, while Lars held a suspect in the stairwell - and the suspect broke free to slash the cop's throat...

Any Brian De Palma fan will know the story of Domino, as he tells it at least, describing it as the worst time he had ever spent on a movie set (and this is the guy who directed Bonfire of the Vanities) thanks to the money running out and the pressure to get something finished doing his head in. So now the project can be widely seen, were the results as bad as De Palma feared? Though it should be pointed out that this version is what he indicated was largely his cut, so he only had himself to blame if the response was poor. And poor it was, with many declaring it the worst thing he had ever put his name to (obviously from people who had not seen The Black Dahlia).

Actually, though it would not have been a disaster for many a director of, say, a Steven Seagal thriller, indeed it would have been a step up, for De Palma's quality it did admittedly represent a dip, but largely because the stunted budget was apparent. What should have been, for instance, a bravura tribute to his beloved Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo in the opening action sequence wound up as a rather limited echo of James Stewart hanging from the gutter and looking down on the street below, as the villain Tarzi (Eriq Ebouaney) tries his best to escape despite being in exactly the same, unfortunate position. You could see what they were getting at, but also how they fell short.

'Scuse the pun. Instead of being cinematic, this was televisual, no matter how many of the director's accustomed flourishes appeared in as much as they could muster. And yet, as the small screen and what was achievable on it had caught up with the movies, a piece like Domino was not good enough, especially with that title making it easily mistakable for the flop Kiera Knightley action thriller biopic of not that long before. Would you really want your movie associated with that? Particularly when you could very easily reach the end of this and wonder, wait a minute, what the hell was this supposed to do with dominos? Was that supposed to be somebody's name?! (Rumour had it American import Christina Hendricks had been cast in that role - you will look for her in vain in the end result).

There were twists, like the impact-free one that Christian's girlfriend Alex (Carice van Houten) was having an affair with Lars (not a couple you can easily envisage together), but it would be the setpieces the fans would be pinning their hopes on, notably when the anti-Islamic extremist terrorism plot Tarzi is mixed up in relied on cliches that would never be seen in something like the Jack Ryan series on streaming television, making this seem a lot more past it than it really should have. And yet, every so often De Palma's endeavours to at least get something decent out of these circumstances would produce a scene, even a shot, where you could see what attracted him to the production no matter that it fell apart around his ears: weaponised images were a theme, but the final recreation of The Man Who Knew Too Much remake at a bullfight instead of the Albert Hall climaxing in a kick to the bollocks instead of a piercing scream said it all. Music by the director's old pal Pino Donaggio.

[Signature Entertainment presents Domino on Amazon Prime Video 12th March.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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Brian De Palma  (1940 - )

Controversial American director and Alfred Hitchcock fan, strong on style, but weak on emotion. His early, political films like Greetings and Hi, Mom! gained some acclaim, but it was with Sisters that he emerged as a major talent of the 1970s and settled into his cycle of thrillers and horrors: The Phantom of the Paradise, Carrie, Obsession, The Fury, Dressed to Kill, Blow Out, Body Double, Carlito's Way, Raising Cain, Snake Eyes and Femme Fatale being good examples.

He's not aversed to directing blockbusters such as Scarface, The Untouchables and Mission Impossible, but Bonfire of the Vanities was a famous flop and The Black Dahlia fared little better as his profile dipped in its later years, with Passion barely seeing the inside of cinemas. Even in his poorest films, his way with the camera is undeniably impressive. Was once married to Nancy Allen.

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