'Dom Hemingway': petty theft.
The film is truly a gamble on Law's star power, and for those who liked Guy Ritchie's "Snatch" and "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels," Shepard's London mafia black comedy could satisfy their tastes, but for others this is one confused and emotionally unbalanced story.
Hemingway is a safe cracker who has been in jail for 12 years due to a heist gone bad, but he hasn't ratted out his boss Mr. Fontaine (Demian Bichir) or his colleague criminals during his stay in prison. Dom is anticipating his release, for he is ready to take over the streets of London once again! Nevertheless, even the crass and self-indulgent Dom has some emotional baggage that he's got to deal with: His wife died of cancer while he was imprisoned and his daughter Evelyn (Emilia Clarke, famed for playing Daenerys Targaryen in "Game of Thrones") is now a grown woman who wants nothing to do with him.
The first thing Dom does when he's free is visit his local pub and contact his best buddy Dickie (the charismatic Richard E. Grant), whose main duty is to provide comic relief through quirky comments. Dom and Dickie travel to southern France to visit Mr. Fontaine so that Dom can ask him for the "amount he's due" for not giving the big boss's name to the police. Some witty gangster conversation passes between the three and quickly the trio embarks on a drug-induced party with prostitutes to celebrate Dom's release. The night goes bad, one of the prostitutes steals Dom's hush money and, my oh my, Dom is overtaken by pure anger.
Penniless, he goes back to London and loses himself in alcohol, but he tries to sustain his "cool cat" attitude. The man is so embittered that, listening to him, despite his intelligent wisecracks, makes the viewer even more depressed. Dom visits his old nemesis' son Lestor, asking the young man for a job as a safecracker. Lestor hates Dom for killing his pet cat Bernard 12 years ago (!), but he nevertheless gives the man a chance: If Dom can unlock Lestor's safe in 10 minutes, he will provide the man employment. Once again, all goes wrong, and Dom has to make a run for it.
It takes about an hour of the film to give Dom motivation to finally visit his daughter Evelyn to ask for her forgiveness. Dom's apology is not heartfelt, so Evelyn once again snubs him. So the question is, will he actually make an effort to gain back his daughter's affections, or will he just go back to his rowdy ways? Or, more importantly, do we honestly care?
"Dom Hemingway" follows the conventions of the criminal redemption story and, at its heart, it tries to illustrate the emotional transformation of its lead character. But the problem here is that despite Law's notable performance as a South London sleazeball (the complete opposite from his Dr. Watson in "Sherlock"), Shepard's screenplay has some gaps regarding character motivation and emotional conviction. The screenplay tries very hard to combine the soft and hard side of Dom, to try to make him a complex human being, but unfortunately the balance is not there -- for Dom's dark side is much more dominant than his humanity. The man is not at all a likable character. In any other film, he wouldn't have to be, but since we're watching a redemption story we need something substantial to connect and empathize with. Wisecracks and inventive swear words are just not enough.
Law proves he is an undeniably talented actor of great variety, but even his charms can't hide the weakness of the film's story.
(Cihan/Today's Zaman) CyHAN
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