UK/France/Spain - 2019)
Directed by Brian De Palma. Written by Petter Skavlan. Cast: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Carice van Houten, Guy Pearce, Eriq Ebouaney, Mohammed Azaay, Soren Malling, Paprika Steen, Thomas W. Gabrielsson, Emrin Dalgic, Illias Adabb, Helena Kaittani. (R, 89 mins)
As anyone who saw George A. Romero's final film SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD, or John Carpenter's last film to date, THE WARD, or Warren Beatty's RULES DON'T APPLY, or nearly everything Dario Argento's done for the last 25 or so years, or observed the multi-decade downfall of Tobe Hooper can attest, great filmmakers often lose their way as time goes on. It can be due to a variety of reasons--from getting stuck with journeymen gigs, to an inability to get the financing they need to do the projects they want, or simply losing their mojo and coasting on their reputation and name value (or, in Beatty's specific case, being away from the game for too many years). With the exception of 2007's REDACTED, his unsuccessful attempt to replicate CASUALTIES OF WAR in an Iraq War setting, the legendary Brian De Palma has been bankrolled almost entirely by foreign backers since 2002's French-produced FEMME FATALE. There was a time in the early '80s--that incredible streak of DRESSED TO KILL, BLOW OUT, SCARFACE, and BODY DOUBLE--when De Palma, one of the most visionary and stylish American filmmakers of his generation, was absolutely on fire. His dazzling, hypnotic set pieces, the split-screens, and the intricate timing and choreography were uniquely his own even as he constantly paid tribute to Hitchcock. He also demonstrated an ability to handle commercial hits like THE UNTOUCHABLES and the first installment of the MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE franchise. Now 78, De Palma works sporadically enough these days that each new film still qualifies as legitimate event for those disciples who've followed his career dating back to the late '60s (and if you haven't seen Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow's 2016 documentary DE PALMA, you must). DOMINO, a seven-country co-production and De Palma's first film since 2013's PASSION, was shot back in 2017 and is only now getting a stealth VOD burial from US distributor Lionsgate. This comes a couple months after the trailer went online, prompting De Palma to disown the released version, which he claims was taken from him by the film's Danish financiers--the primary backers of the project--who cut it from 148 minutes down to a bare-bones 89. De Palma's name is still on the film, though other than a few scattered deployments of his signature split diopter shots--which everyone does now in homage to him--the severely-compromised DOMINO never feels like a De Palma film until the climax, and even that is so gutted and badly-assembled that it plays more like someone trying to rip off De Palma and blowing it.
|Brian De Palma and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau on the set of DOMINO