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The Matador Movie Poster

The Matador

Genre: Comedy/Drama
Rated: R
Directed by
: Richard Shepard
Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Greg Kinnear, Arlin Miller, Hope Davis
Released by:

In Short: Brosnan skewers his James Bond persona by playing a lonely loser assassin in this darkly funny buddy comedy.

Bravo for Brosnan
Creating a Brand New Persona
By Jenny Peters

t's not easy to follow up years of being James Bond, arguably the most iconic character in the history of Hollywood, but Pierce Brosnan has pulled it off in his new film, "The Matador." In his first picture released since his Bond contract was officially terminated, the 52-year-old actor goes after the suave persona with a vengeance, playing an international assassin who has sunk into the depths of depression and depravity—and lost his nerve to boot. He's scruffy, bleary eyed, sexually dissolute, often drunk and even slightly creepy as Julian Noble, the veritable flip side of Bond—a guy definitely at the end of his rope as the movie opens.

But if that description makes "The Matador" sound cheerless with a leading character who’s a miserable loser, that's not the case at all. Instead, the movie is an often funny, occasionally serious and always engaging tale of unlikely friendship, as a chance meeting in a Mexico City hotel bar between Noble and a dejected American businessman (Greg Kinnear) evolves into an adventure that irrevocably changes both men's lives.

Brosnan embraces the role of the disconsolate hitman, while Kinnear’s performance hits just the right tone as the good-hearted, happily married Danny Wright, a classic all-American guy whose luck has been particularly bad lately. Hope Davis' inspired support as Bean, his wonderful wife, rounds out the well-complemented cast.

Despite a whirl of international settings (including a perhaps overly obvious metaphorical moment at a bullfight), "The Matador" is really an intimate two-hander between Brosnan and Kinnear that works brilliantly, convincing us that such radically different men could actually become friends. It's a slightly twisted take on the buddy movie genre that cleverly explores themes of shared mid-life crises, the transforming power of love and the life-altering results of making moral personal choices. To top it off, it's really a quite funny black comedy, as well.

(Updated 01/22/08 NJ)

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