Under the Radar

Saving 'Dom Hemingway'

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Dom Hemingway (out now on Blu-ray and Digital) looks bulletproof, offering up Jude Law and Richard E. Grant dressed like a couple of '70s British villains in a movie written and directed by Richard Shepard, who made the aging hitman classic The Matador with Pierce Brosnan.

All the trailers make this one look like a standard-issue UK hard man gangster picture with larger-than-life characters with lives punctuated by extreme violence. Lots of characters will die and the protagonist may or may not learn something about himself.  Jude Law's title character definitely belongs in one of those movies, but Shepard is ultimately more interested in his relationship with his daughter, played by Emilia Clarke from Game of Thrones. He's hidden an absent-father-seeks-redemption melodrama in his crime picture.

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When the movie opens, Dom gets out of prison after a 12-year stint for robbery. He kept his mouth shut and now expects to be rewarded by Mr. Fontaine, the boss behind the job. There's a confrontation with his ex-wife's husband, followed by a trip with Grant to the south of France, some uncontrolled outbursts, a gruesome death and the theft of Dom's newly acquired cash. He returns to London and tries to reconnect with a daughter who wants nothing to do with him. He also needs to drum up some safecracking work and goes to the son of one of his old competitors for a job, a decision that could have negative consequences for his private parts.

The family redemption stuff seems out of place after the over-the-top comic violence in the movie's first half. Emilia Clarke (and her character's boyfriend) seem to be acting in a different movie. Still, if Richard E. Grant playing a mobster with a prosthetic hand to comic effect is an appealing idea, you might enjoy this no matter what.

There are a few standard-issue making-of featurettes on the Blu-ray. More interesting is the director's commentary from Shepard. There's also a 30-minute loop of the topless ping pong match that's projected on the wall of a nightclub office late in the film so you can recreate the scene in your own living room.

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