The Matador (2006)
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Review Date: January 29, 2006
Director: Richard Shepard
Writer: Richard Shepard
Producers: Pierce Brosnan, Bryan Furst, Sean Furst, Beau St. Clair
Pierce Brosnan as Julian
Greg Kinnear as Danny
Hope Davis as Bean
An old-school hitman is feeling blue after his latest assassination in Mexico City, and decides to head down to the hotel bar and shoot back a few margaritas. At the drinking hole, he meets a nice-guy traveling salesman who is quickly intrigued by this very odd individual. Over the next couple of days, the boys get to know each other better, but eventually, the assassin’s career comes up under questionable circumstances, and they split up for good. That is until six months later when they “surprisingly” run into each other again.
Don’t let this movie’s lame-o title and poster scare you away, folks, this is one of the most creative, fun and entertaining 90 minutes that I’ve spent with any film over the past few months and a great way to start 2006! First things fuckin’ last though (R.I.P. Chris Penn), allow me to stand up in my boxer shorts right now, slap my sweaty hands together and applaud the performance by the lead man in this movie, Pierce Brosnan! I never really thought much of Brosnan’s previous acting gigs (even the Bond stuff was decent, but nothing more than that), but he takes this kooky hitman character and lives and breathes the guy. And believe you me…this is not a one-dimensional figure. This is a man who cannot be trusted with much of what comes out of his mouth, and yet, as Brosnan plays him, he comes off as a sympathetic type as well, filled with angst, loneliness and plenty of humorous foul-mouthed dialogue and horniness to boot. Being as his character is such a cool dude, the film really can’t help but glide along, but it doesn’t just stop there as the camaraderie built between Brosnan and straight-man Greg Kinnear also packs a punch, with a nice “friendship” vibe rescued from beneath much of their seemingly contemptuous relationship throughout the movie. The film’s writer/director Richard Shepard also helps things along with plenty of fun locations, inventive directorial decisions, cute screen-cards to help us find our way alongside this globe-trotting assassin, as well as nifty soundtrack which always keeps things peppy and light, despite the film ultimately being centered around a not-so-nice man who kills others for a living.

Being a black comedy more than a thriller though, Shepard makes sure to cut away or save us the actual displeasure of seeing people getting whacked on screen, so that we can continue to empathize with Brosnan’s aging killer, a man who seems to have hit a wall in his “career”. With everything out on location for the first half of the movie (including a matador match in Mexico City…hence the title?), it was also nice to get back home during the film’s second half, particularly since it injected the always-effective Hope Davis into the proceedings, and created a cute surreal scenario as the hitman sat around drinking whiskey with the typical suburban couple and their wonderfully decorated Christmas abode. Real sweet stuff. Of course, the “sweet stuff” doesn’t last too long as more killings are on the way, but it all comes together with a few twists and turns to boot, and a couple of “held back” scenes that meld into the big picture. I can’t finish this review without providing kudos to the film’s fun dialogue either, particularly Brosnan’s who would constantly drop hilarious one-liners into the mix including an uncomfortably funny first meeting with Kinnear at the hotel bar (“You like cock?”) and his constant gripes about hookers around the world (“All they are here is blushy-blushy, but no fuckey-suckey”).

Like I said “fun times” for anyone looking for a quick creative movie-making fix, with Brosnan’s career performance leading the way, plenty of tomfoolery backing it all up and dark comedy, cute touches, moral grapplings and even a little emotional stuff packed in to create one of the best movies of the year so far. Hehehe, get it…it’s the first movie that I’ve seen this year. Seriously though, it’s great! And I don’t think I’m ever going to get the visual of Brosnan straddling across the hotel lobby in nothing but his black speedos and black cowboy boots, with a beer and cigarette in hand, out of my mind for a long, long time to come. And you know what…I’m okay with that!! That was some funny shite.
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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