Directed by: Richard Shepard
Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Greg Kinnear, Arlin Miller, Hope
Released by: Miramax
Short: Brosnan skewers his James Bond persona
by playing a lonely loser assassin in this darkly
funny buddy comedy.
Creating a Brand New Persona
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.
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.
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.
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.