Lots of style, violence in revenge-filled De Palma thriller.
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Domino is a mature, revenge- and terrorism-focused thriller from director Brian De Palma. It had a troubled production history, and the finished film feels a little lacking in character development and somewhat irresponsible in the way it depicts terrorism. But it features two Game of Thrones stars (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Carice van Houten), and De Palma's astounding style frequently saves the day. Violence is frequent and extreme: Expect to see guns and shooting, a bloody massacre, an attempted terrorist bombing, blood and gore, gory dead bodies, fighting, punching, slicing, and cutting. A young boy sees gory crime scene photos. There's also full-frontal female nudity as a woman climbs out of bed and cuddles and kisses her male partner. Other characters are said to have had an affair. Language includes a few uses of "f--k," plus "a--hole" and "oh, Christ." Characters talk about having had drinking problems and attending AA meetings, and alcohol is seen.
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What's the Story?
In DOMINO, Danish police officer Christian (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) is distracted by his lover on his way out the door and forgets his gun. 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' 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 still seeks revenge with the help of 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.
Is It Any Good?
Thanks to a troubled production and a thin story and characters, this thriller from suspense veteran Brian De Palma doesn't rank with his best. But his still-masterful, bravura touches make it worth a look. Some sources suggest that Domino was intended to be much longer; perhaps that movie would have fleshed out some of the story's more emotional and political aspects. This 89-minute version skimps a little on relationships and character interactions, and it feels a tad irresponsible in the way it handles 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 haven't faded; in that, 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 also show that he's not afraid to change with the times. In one shocking sequence, two cameras and split-screen are used to simultaneously show an ISIS assassin's face and her targets. But the iffy production buzz, 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 shows that few of his works were ever appreciated upon first release, and Domino at least deserves a look.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about Domino's violence. How strong is it? How did it affect you? Do the terrorist attacks feel gratuitous? Why or why not?
How does the movie view sex? Does it value relationships? Trust?
Why do you think revenge is so frequently the subject of movies/stories? What does revenge achieve?
What is the movie's view of the CIA? What kinds of tactics are used here to fight terrorism? Do they seem OK? Do the ends ever justify the means?
Is it ever OK for a movie's style to take precedence over its substance? Why or why not?
- In theaters: May 31, 2019
- On DVD or streaming: July 30, 2019
- Cast: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Carice Van Houten, Guy Pearce
- Director: Brian De Palma
- Studio: Saban Films
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 89 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong violence, some language and brief nudity
- Last updated: February 25, 2023
Our Editors Recommend
Zero Dark Thirty
Intelligent, uncompromising drama is violent and complex.
Slow but thoughtful, mature character-based thriller.
Smart political thriller has violence, language, drinking.
No worthy role models in De Palma's erotic thriller.
For kids who love thrills
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