… mad, bad and dangerous to know

David Jude Heyworth Law has managed to slip away from his proper speaking English repertory, Watson, assistant to Sherlock in “Game of Shadows,” “The Talented Mr. Ripley” and assorted other well spoken characters, to roll a bit in the gutters, don’t you know, and come up smelling like cockney fish and chips toss out, and diesel fuel. Jude’s Dom Hemingway, obviously a purloined moniker, is a foul mouthed, beefy, fist swinging, mutton chopped lover of all things salacious, and that’s a word Dom wouldn’t know or use.

This is a role that any actor would kill to get his chops on. It’s Law’s richest since the night crawling death photographer in Sam Mendes’ 2002 “Road To Perdition.”

Imagine Michael Caine’s “Alfie” with all of that cockney charm and good looks, gone all bad and sour, full of anger and thirsting for revenge. This is a man born mad with a mouth full of poison spit, softened by the gift of gab, John Gotti vocabulary and a dangerous aroma that women can’t resist. He is Dominic Hemingway … and we’re not.

We meet our Dom as he is standing, arms outstretched, bathed in sweat, prison puffy and aging, as he tells us the very long story of his life up to this point, wearing self aggrandizing superlatives like a beaded necklace around his neck, all the while something or someone is offering services beneath the frame. It may shock some tender hearts.

Dom has just finished showering in a prison somewhere in the north of a clammy, damp England.

We soon find out that he has just finished a term of 12 years, for a big safe cracking and armed robbery. It could have been three, but Dom refused to give up the rest of the crew and the brains. The brains we will meet soon.

But first, Dom is released to the custody of his best friend Dickie, (Richard E. Grant, a smooth, dry witted loyal mate who sports a wooden hand.)

Dom is out and wearing the cheap double-breasted blazer he went in with. Now Dickie whips him off to the South of France to meet the fabulous Mr. Fontaine, (Demian Bichir) the big brains who owes his freedom and wealth to Dom’s silence.

Fontaine’s estate is to die for, and that will come just after Fontaine pays his debt with a million pounds, but not before Dom goes off on another of his insane rants and almost gets himself whacked.

Then the Rolls Royce and the mistress disappear with the cash. Now comes the pool party, drugs, booze and a rain storm accident. That’s all I can tell you.

After a night in a rainy ditch, Dom, broke and bloodied, is back on the street and looking for his daughter (Emilia Clarke) who is all grown up now, wed to a handsome Jamaican, and enjoying her life with a sweet son, not ready for a reunion. Emilia (Daenerys Targaryen, of “Game of Thrones.”)

Daenerys Targaryen only has a few minutes and fewer lines, but she wins us over, hands down.

This is where the Dom-mobile comes to a halt, and everything goes all soft and mellow for a bit, while our fallen hero visits the grave of his dead ex-wife and tries to reunite with daughter and grandson. The soft and mellow part is temporary, because, well, there is this feisty, snarly, little black drug king and night club owner Hugh (a marvelously malicious Nathan Stewart-Jarrett) who makes a scary offer: Open his crack-proof safe in 10 minutes, or Dom loses his privates to impromptu surgery.

Things happen here I cannot disclose. They are funny, scary, delicious, obscene and erotic. You’ve never seen a safe cracker open a safe this way, and you never will again.

Jude Law pulls on Michael Caine’s old crown and covers himself with glory. Watching him swagger through the London streets, on his way to beat a man half to death for something that cannot be disclosed here, you can taste how much fun he’s having, and how much fun he’s giving us.

Demian Bichir, now of televison’s “The Bridge,” is only in the film for 30 or more minutes and he owns most of them. Jude’s blazing fire and Bichir’s killer ice provide one of the best scenes. Bichir was nominated for an Oscar for playing the heroic father in 2011’s “A Better Life,” and is rising fast.

Giles Nuttgens’ camera puts us in the center of the action and makes us want to blush, duck and avert our eyes. Along with Dana Congdon’s editing, and Rolfe Kent’s power music, we can forgive some of Dom’s long-winded speeches.

“Dom Hemingway” puts the move in movie.

J.P. Devine is a former stage and screen actor.

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