"Dom Hemingway" Review: Craig's First Take

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After spending 12 years in prison for keeping his mouth shut, notorious safe-cracker Dom Hemingway is back on the streets of London looking to collect what he's owed.
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Billed as a movie where we get to see Jude Law play a reprehensible scumbag for once, Richard Shepard’s “Dom Hemingway” should be all kinds of fun. The first scene sort of is. Law’s Dom has taken a prison stint lasting 12 years, a long time the movie says, long enough for him to have created a thrilling ode to his penis (I’m not kidding, he really makes you want to see this thing), which Law recites like Moses on the mountain while a fellow prisoner gives him oral off-camera.

Upon his release from prison, Dom wants reparation from the man, Fontaine (Demian Bechir, “The Bridge”), he went to prison to protect and also to reconnect with his now adult daughter (Emilia Clarke, “Game of Thrones”). But Dom is a messy man; prone to outbursts of anger, drinking, and terrible decisions, like telling the dangerous man he went away for that he doesn’t just want money, he wants to guy’s super-hot girlfriend tied up in a little bow in a very special place.

Law, sporting a potbelly, mustache and sideburns, makes Dom like any one of those stable of toughs Guy Ritchie creates in movies like “Snatch” and “Rock n’ Rolla”, although Dom also has an inflated ego that would make Donald Trump look like Woody Allen.

It’s too bad then that we never feel like were watching much of a story here. The movie wants us to see him as redemptive, but then it does something like have him drunkenly kill people in a car accident and then just brush that under the rug without any kind of guilt or punishment at all. I know there are people who constantly whine about misfortune, even though they know they’re on a self-destructive course, but Shepard seems to want to make Dom a irredeemable jerk and yet at times also a sympathetic father and the movie never makes that transition any more than awkward.

As this supposed parable unfolds, Shepard never comes close to making any of Dom’s attempts to get his life back seem redemptive, and Law is stuck overacting without much purpose. Richard E. Grant creates a few laughs as Dom’s long-suffering best friend and Clarke is a strong actress who does quite a bit with very few scenes but “Dom” feels too ill-defined; never really worthy of comedy, sympathy, or what it takes to create a solid redemption story.