By Mark Saldana
Rating: 2 (Out of 4 Stars)
As a fan of the roguish films of Guy Ritchie (Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels), Martin McDonagh (In Bruges) and Danny Boyle (Trainspotting), this movie looked quite promising as a similarly styled comedy about the criminal underworld. Even though the title character could possibly head an awesomely irreverent comedy movie, this just doesn’t happen to be the case with Dom Hemingway. The film does start off promisingly with an amazing Jude Law in the lead role, but ends up going nowhere and feels rushed and incomplete when it concludes. A mix of hilarious and not-so-hilarious humor doesn’t help either. Unlike the best films of Ritchie, Boyle and McDonagh, this one struggles to deliver comedic gold.
Talented safe-cracker, Dom Hemingway, has served twelve years in prison, but never ratted out his boss Mr. Fontaine (Demian Bichir). After his release, Dom reconnects with his best friend Dickie Black (Richard E. Grant) and hopes to reap the rewards of his silence. Being the obnoxious and profane wild card that he is, Dom demands a hefty award from his wealthy and dangerous boss. However, things get more complicated when Mr. Fontaine’s sexy girlfriend Paolina (Madalina Diana Ghenea) gets involved. In addition to collecting the reward he feels he deserves, Dom also wishes to reconnect with his estranged daughter Evelyn (Emilia Clarke).
Writer/director Richard Shepard has all the right elements to make an uproariously funny comedy, and one with a sweet and lovable heart at its core, but manages to squander these elements and fails to take this story as far as it could go. The overall experience was similar to watching a short film that was poorly developed into a feature. Some comedic sequences run on too long and the story comes to an abrupt and unsatisfying ending. This is rather disappointing considering the entertainment potential of the character. On the more positive end, some comic moments do work well, and contain some hilarious writing that would make Quentin Tarantino proud. Shepard clearly has talent, but just needed to take more time to better develop his story and characters.
He has assembled an awesome cast here who all deliver exceptional performances, but Jude Law is extraordinary as the lead. Law seriously immerses himself into his role and never deviates. If there is one reason not to miss this movie, that would be Jude Law. I can easily see him fit in as a brutish rogue in any crime comedies by Ritchie, Boyle or McDonagh. Sadly, though, this is not the work of these brilliant directors.
That is not to say that Shepard is completely untalented. This movie definitely shows promise, but suffers from an under-developed story and script. Perhaps had he worked with another writer to add more dimension and depth to his screenplay, then I would be giving this film a better review. Dom Hemingway is still worth a watch because of Jude Law’s performance, but I wouldn’t recommend spending top dollar to see it. This one is best left as rental night at home.