To some, Pierce Brosnan may still be James Bond, but to others he plays a much more effective sleaze ball. Losing the tuxedo but not the weapons, Brosnan returns as a lonely and loopy assassin who befriends a struggling businessman (Greg Kinnear) in Mexico City in "The Matador."
A quality piece of work that went relatively unnoticed when it was released last year, "The Matador" is a funny, well-written story that makes the most of its two stars. The chemistry between the two is great. Brosnan and Kinnear play well off one another, and since the movie is surprisingly dialogue-based in most respects, that is important. There are several long sequences where the two bite back at one another, especially later in the film as the characters grow more comfortable with one another.
It is Brosnan who steals the show, though, as he seems to love these kinds of roles. He has played less than savory characters in a variety of films, from "The Thomas Crown Affair" to "The Tailor of Panama" and one other one I can't quite recall. Where he was a pretty good Bond, he is an excellent loser, as he brings a level of class to even the lowliest of characters. The character of Julian is a memorable one, as he is by nature a pretty nice guy - he just kills people for a living. Lonely, depressed and a little erratic, he shifts between nearly psychotic and pleasant everyman in seconds (usually thanks to alcohol). This is one of Brosnan's better performances.
The movie itself has its fair share of laughs, though it's hard to point out exactly what was so funny. The movie just works in a very fluid and easy going kind of way, and at only 90 minutes long is just the right length.
"The Matador" is a funny and entertaining hit man comedy that works on many levels. While not a sensational piece of work, it does what it set out to do - to deliver good performances, a funny story and plenty of jokes.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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