Reel Life – Domino (2005)

Director: Tony Scott

Writer: Richard Kelly

Stars: Keira Knightley, Mickey Rourke, Edgar Ramirez, Jacqueline Bisset

Release date: October 14th, 2005

Distributor: New Line Cinema, Metropolitan Filmexport

Countries: US, France

Running time: 127 minutes




Best part: A gravely Rourke.

Worst part: The Hyper-hyper-hyper-kinetic style.

Acclaimed director Tony Scott defined the era of the loud, artistic action set piece with his smash hit Top Gun. Since then however his style has overpowered several of his productions. This still might have been acceptable if it didn’t reach the point of being completely overbearing. Domino is however the last straw, with every frame a clear call for better editing and cinematography needed from the once great action filmmaker.

Following the supposedly true story of bounty hunter Domino Harvey, she never becomes interesting, mostly due to her brash nature. The tough chick persona is OTT in many regards, down to flashy tattoos, blond emo-fringe, male clothing and piercings draping her near skeleton-like frame. The story is told through her current drug trip, during an interrogation with a sassy interrogator (Lucy Liu). Sure, being on an actual drug trip might be enjoyable, but we are subjected to a non-stop flood of quick cuts, shaking cameras, lens flares and overlapping images.

She is joined by a convoy of followers, including two fellow bounty hunters (Mickey Rourke and Edgar Ramirez) involved in all counts of murder, extortion and pot smoking. For bounty hunters, they sure do live an unsubtle life. For some reason they agree to be followed around by a camera crew filming a strange new reality show, tracking the whereabouts of America’s most dangerous offenders. This ridiculous subplot, featuring a phony near-cameo performance from Christopher Walken, is one of many ideas trying to bring pathos to this ultra-dumb super trooper story.

If you were one of the biggest criminals in America, why would you want to be so blatantly identified anyway? If these characters had any common sense they might have thought ahead. Scott does however manage to pull of gunfights with stylish choreography and chilling sound effects with technical precision. Every bullet is fired with a loud ring, particularly effective during a horrifyingly violent scene of operation in the back of a bus.

Verdict: A messy and irritating crime-thriller.

Resident Evil: Retribution – Overworked Corpse

Director: Paul W.S. Anderson

Writer: Paul W.S. Anderson

Stars: Mila Jovovich, Sienna Guillroy, Michelle Rodriguez, Bingbing Li

Release date: September 14th, 2012

Distributor: Screen Gems

Country: USA

Running time: 96 minutes


Best part: Its tech-savvy visuals.

Worst part: The acting. Yeesh!

It’s 1968. A filmmaker by the name of George A. Romero has a dream of making the big time in Hollywood. He creates an idea for a new monster to unleash upon terrified audiences. Night of the Living Dead, the first true iteration of the ‘zombie’ is born. 44 years later, his legacy has led to one of the most immortal series’ of our time. That’s not a good thing in this case, as the Resident Evil saga has more than officially outstayed its welcome.

Mila Jovovich.

Mila Jovovich.

It’s fifth instalment can be described simply as a watered down Romero zombie flick for the iPhone generation. Tearing apart every seemingly interesting opportunity, what is left is merely a shadow of the fun 2002 original and some mildly entertaining sequels.The plot of Resident Evil: Retribution is as frustrating as teaching a child how to solve a rubik’s cube; it’s messy, tedious and forces you to give up after 10 minutes. The moustache twirling baddie-spitting organisation known as ‘Umbrella’ is once again interfering with failed test subject and spandex-clad warrior queen Alice (Mila Jovovich). Recoiling from the events of previous instalments, her capture leads to a series of simulated obstacles, each more trying than the last. Alice, a collection of allies and her fragmented mind must defend themselves against the horde of undead creatures and the vicious Red Queen.

Michelle Rodriguez.

Michelle Rodriguez.

Based on the hugely successful series of video games (now up to no. 6), the relentless and blood-curdling antics of the games far outweigh anything put forth by Jovovich and her hack-director husband Paul W.S Anderson. Anderson (known for such ‘classics’ as Alien vs. Predator, The 2008 Death Race remake and last year’s silly re-imagining of The Three Musketeers) places his lack of filmmaking prowess in full view (along with his wife’s naughty bits). A man clearly interested in the alluring aspects of video game creation over the basics of film production and script writing, his mindset for direction works like a stoner with a sudden rush of ideas for the next great invention. If you missed the last few instalments, everything is unnecessarily explained in minute detail, hopefully getting audiences to revisit the better points of this undead nightmare (specifically Resident Evil: Extinction). This series is clearly his baby, and he intends to prove that with every idea based on a simple “I love this element from the game, we’ll throw that in here!”. Sadly for him Resident Evil: Retribution fails on every level. The fun, violent, techno-action allure from the original becomes sanitised in a film filled with bright lights, simulations and an over abundance of touch screens. The elements of video game story and characterisation have never worked on film, nor will they if Anderson keeps his filthy hands on every adaptation. 

“Waiting for a written invitation?” (Alice (Mila Jovovich), Resident Evil: Retribution).

Jovovich & Li Bingbing

Jovovich & Li Bingbing.

Resident Evil: Retribution suffers from repetitive story and action beats, ripped not only from better parts of this series but from completely different movies. Alice’s simulated memories turn her life into the most basic of video games. The elements of surprise, suspense, original action/chase sequences and character interactions are ruined with every contrivance and predictable jump scare hastily thrown in. She wakes up in Dawn of the Dead, Sucker Punch, Aliens, Escape from New York and finally The Terminator, as Anderson once again reveals to have a lack of original thought. Though not surprising given his mindless filmography. All the ‘W.S Anderson’ touches are thrown in for good measure. Long hallways with on-coming obstacles, creatures leap over and over again at the screen, silly special effect-laden set pieces and charisma-less characters are part of the ensemble of bad decisions in this cliche ridden extravaganza. Even his action style, although fun in rare moments here, is a bland hybrid of John Woo’s hyper-violent gun play and Zack Snyder’s slo-mo. The performances from Anderson regulars don’t help much either. Without a suitable reason for bringing in characters from previous instalments, Michelle Rodriguez (Resident Evil), Oded Fehr (R.E: Apocalypse and Extinction) and Sienna Guillroy (R.E: Apocalypse) provide nothing but clones devoid of personality. While Jovovich, despite looking good in black spandex, is all but sinking with this ship.

Despite Paul W. S. Anderson commitment to his own creation, Resident Evil: Retribution marks the beginning of the end for the franchise. Thanks to the nightmarish acting, derivative style, and bland story, this corpse should be put out of its mystery!

Verdict: This undead series should rest in peace.