Jude Law, left, stars as a safecracker just out of prison and Richard E. Grant is his old buddy in 'Dom Hemingway.' (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
“Dom Hemingway” isn’t so much a story as it is a portrait of a poetic lunatic thug.
Luckily, Jude Law brings just the right mix of swagger, lewdness and vulnerability to the film, keeping the energy up even when the mostly sharp script by Richard Shepard (“The Matador”) begins to repeat itself. Bulked up, pretty boy face hidden beneath a mutton-chop mess, Law has never played this ferocious of a character, and it’s obvious he’s enjoying himself immensely.
As the film opens, Dom is standing in a prison shower, delivering a soliloquy about the beauty and power of his nether regions. Soon he’s released from a long stretch behind walls and he storms onto the streets of London, ready to exact revenge on those who’ve offended him.
Chief on his mind, though, is a big payoff from Mr. Fontaine (Demian Bichir), the crime kingpin who Dom protected with his silence while in prison. Soon enough Dom, a safecracker by trade, has found his old buddy Dickie (a dryly hilarious Richard Grant), who reconnects him with Mr. Fontaine in France.
Trouble is, Dom’s got a mouth on him, and when he reunites with the very dangerous Mr. Fontaine, he explodes in a vitriol-laced rant that almost gets him killed. Dom’s temper and innate cockiness continue to serve him poorly as he tries to reunite with a now-grown daughter (Emilia Clarke) he barely knows while attempting to gain employment with a former enemy (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett).
There’s little in the way of redemption here, just some sharp turns down dark alleys and, in the end, a bit of gleeful karma. But you don’t so much care where Dom is going as how he’s getting there, and he’s getting there loud.
Rated R for sexual content, nudity, pervasive language, some violence and drug use
Running time: 93 minutes