"A NICE LITTLE POLITICAL THRILLER" / "THE DESTRUCTIVE POWER OF IMAGES"
With Domino opening in Belgium next week (September 5th), Gazet van Antwerpen's Kristin Matthyssen notes that the windmill in Oelegem "shines for 90 seconds" in the film. Meanwhile, reviews from Germany are starting to come out-- here are a couple of them, translated with the assistance of Google translations:
A nice little political thriller, "Domino" by Brian De Palma. The fight against ISIS, scene of Copenhagen. There is a suicide bombing on the red carpet, and for the finale one in the bullring of Almeria, with drone. The "Game of Thrones" stars Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Carice van Houten practice their job as Copenhagen cops with pleasantly old-fashioned methods, and De Palma conjures up Hitchcock again, in the stairwells and over the rooftops of the city, this time the beginning of "Vertigo," with James Stewart hanging from the gutter. Installed in a dozen terraced houses, the CIA stages their interrogations ice-cold under the unruffled gaze of a Buddha. When Coster-Waldau wonders how they would know a personal detail about him, he gets the answer: We're Americans, we read your e-mails.
Michael Kienzl, Deutschlandfunk Kultur
The Destructive Power of Images...
Brian De Palma has been known since the '70s as a visually stunning stylist. His specialty is in films with dual ground layers. Meanwhile, he films with low budgets in Europe. With "Domino" he has managed a convincing thriller.
The spectacular finale of "Domino" takes place in a Spanish bullring. Two police officers from Copenhagen are trying to thwart an Islamist terrorist attack. The scene is staged like a ballet. While the movements of the actors become soft and graceful through the use of slow motion, composer Pino Donaggio turns the tension screw with a slowly increasing Bolero rhythm.
A Stylist from "New Hollywood"
With visually extravagant moments like this, American director Brian De Palma has earned a reputation as a great stylist, melodrama and Hitchcock heir, especially in the 1970s and 80s. Often these were horror films and thrillers like "Carrie" and "Dressed to Kill", and later also major projects like the first part of the "Mission: Impossible" series.
But some flops made sure that he could no longer realize his films in Hollywood. "Domino" is now - after "Passion" shot in Berlin - already the second, purely European De Palma production.
The story combines various revenge stories: It's about two investigators who follow the murderer of their colleague from Denmark to Spain. He in turn hunts an ISIS terrorist who has his father's conscience - and is used by a CIA agent, who in turn wants to avenge his partner. It is not political but personal motives that develop into a vortex of retribution in which salvation is ruled out.
An Enrichment of Genre Cinema
With its estimated $6 million budget, Domino is a low-budget movie, so to speak. In part, you can see that too, for example because many scenes play in cars or interiors and the aesthetics are closer to that of television than to the cinema. And through the complicated production history, the film with its ISIS story also acts as if it would lag a few years behind.
From much of the criticism, the film was accordingly panned. But even if some things are a bit adventurous or thickly applied, De Palma shows in an impressive way how he represents an enrichment for the current genre cinema even under the most difficult conditions.
More than Hollywood on the Back Burner
"Domino" does not simply try to implement the savings version of Hollywood material. With a wink, he plays offensively with the fact that here a renowned US director suddenly films in Europe.
A running gag of the film is about the absence of firearms. Right at the beginning, the protagonist forgets his service weapon at home, which ultimately leads to the death of his partner. And when he wants to follow the murderer with his new colleague to Spain, the two have to leave their weapons behind at the security checkpoint.
Operatic Picture Excesses
Although De Palma's greatest strength here again is the operatic image excesses for which he is known, the film not only revels in his images, but also reveals its destructive power. For example, a terrorist uses a machine gun with a mounted camera to record both the perpetrator's and victim's reaction. Later, the recording ends up as a propaganda video on Youtube.
A CIA agent, on the other hand, uses surveillance images on a laptop to break a prisoner. The terror and also the fight against him lead in "Domino" to a showdown over who produces the more threatening images.