The Matador
Director: Richard Shepard
Writer: Richard Shepard
Producers: Pierce Brosnan, Bryan Furst, Sean Furst, Beau St. Clair
Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Greg Kinnear, Hope Davis, Phillip Baker Hall
MPAA Rating:R
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     Leave any preconceptions you may have about Pierce Brosnan at home. Within three minutes of the beginning of this movie, you'll forget all about the dapper sophisiticate that is Remington Steele, or the suave super-spy for MI-6 known as 007. The second you see him rummage through a prostitute's purse searching for the perfect color nail polish to paint his toenails, you'll know you're in for something special.

      In this unique comedy, Brosnan plays Julian, an alcoholic, over the hill hitman who is beginning to lose his edge. During a job in Mexico City he meets Danny; your typical, straight as an arrow, low level business suburbanite with a wife and a picket fence. They begin talking and exchange pleasantries. The next day they go on "an adventure" together, where Julian informs Danny about his "job." Instead of freaking out, Danny is appalled, but also interested and Julian shows him a few tricks of the trade. The story goes from there and hilarity ensues...but with focus on the characters' challenges and their deeper story of friendship and family.

      Brosnan carries this film. Although very witty and likable (in a Bad Santa kind of way), there are several people that could've filled this role. But because we're used to seeing Brosnan as someone who is very typecast as the ultra-cool, sophisitcated brit, I don't believe the role could've been filled with the same amount of intrigue or surprise by anyone else. If Billy-bob Thornton walked through a crowded hotel lobby drinking a beer with nothing but small black speedos and black boots on (see the trailer), it would be funny. But when Brosnan does it, it's so much funnier because it's so unexpected and against typecast. Couple this with the witty dialogue and it's a winner. He has several fantastic similes that generate loads of laughs from the audience i.e. "Not for all the teen twat in Thailand," or " out of shape as a Bangkok whore on Sunday morning after the navy left town" - priceless and quite possibly his finest performance ever.

      The other roles are fine too. Greg Kinnear is pretty good in almost anything he does. The Matador is no exception, but he's nothing special. His chemistry with Brosnan works very well and as their characters are complete opposites, it makes for fun viewing. Hope Davis plays Danny's wife who is completely intrigued at meeting a hitman; "I wonder if he'll show me his gun?" All the roles are played to perfection, but Brosnan takes the cake.

      I know it all sounds like a cliche, boring story, but trust me when I say it's not. It's by no means a great film, but it's highly amusing and well worth a couple hours from your life. If I went through all the scenarios and one-on-one exchanges, it would ruin things. Just enjoy the wit, the sarcasm and the new Pierce Brosnan. This film has opened my eyes to Brosnan's talent. I've alwys thought he's the best of the actors to play James Bond, and I was upset when I learned he would not be reprising the role of 007. But now, I'm almost glad. If this is the kind of stuff he is capable of and willing to do, I, for one, am excited to see more. In fact this film just screams for a sequel, or maybe better yet, a prequel.

Official site
quicktime trailer
rotten tmoatoes' current fresh rating