The Matador - Review
Review by Jack Foley
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Making Of Featurette; Deleted Scenes; Director Commentary; Alternate Opening.
FORMER James Bond star Pierce Brosnan attempts to shed his suave, sophisticated 007 image (sometimes literally) in this dark comedy about a hitman undergoing a mid-life crisis.
Brosnan plays Julian Noble, a successful assassin, who suddenly loses his ability to kill after a lifetime of violence, drinking and illicit sex. In Mexico to carry out his latest assignment, he meets and befriends Danny Wright (Greg Kinnear) a nice-guy businessman struggling to make it on his own, and immediately becomes jealous of his comfortable life.
Yet Danny is not as relaxed as he seems despite being happily married to his high school sweetheart (the excellent Hope Davis) given that the couple lost their son in a tragic accident and seem unable to escape from their losing streak.
Although unlikely friends, Danny and Julian might just be able to solve each other’s problems – if Julian can stay alive long enough to make things happen for the both of them.
Written and directed by Richard Sheperd, The Matador is an offbeat but engaging experience that thrives on the chemistry between its two leads.
Brosnan appears to be having immense fun poking fun at his James Bond image and frequently provides the film’s biggest laughs, especially when striding through the lobby of his hotel while clad in only a pair of cowboy boots and some briefs. He also succeeds in providing an endearing presence no matter how amoral his character becomes.
Yet Kinnear is equally fun to be around, whether protesting against helping Julian out on his latest job, or considering employing the hitman’s expertise to further his own business ends. The banter between the two is razor sharp and gives rise to some terrific one-liners (especially from Brosnan’s foul-mouthed rogue).
Story-wise, Sheperd’s movie strains credibility to the absolute maximum yet somehow manages to keep things tense and intriguing so that audiences are never quite sure what direction it’s going to be heading in next.
It means that viewers should be guessing the outcome right up until the final moments, when Sheperd could be accused of taking the soft option.
Yet for all of its faults and occasional lapses in rhythm, The Matador remains an immensely enjoyable experience that revels in its ability to exist in such amoral terrain. Audiences willing to take this bull by its horns are therefore sure to be shaken by Brosnan’s change of image, yet stirred into applauding such a brave departure.
Running time: 96mins