The Matador - quick review

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Patrick Sun, Jan 28, 2006.

  1. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator

    Jun 30, 1999
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    Pierce Brosnan is back as Julian, an assassin who's in the midst of a nervous breakdown, and Greg Kinnear plays Danny, who somehow becomes Julian's one link to normalcy from a happenstance encounter in Mexico of all places.

    The chemistry is very good between Julian and Danny, plus Hope Davis was amusing as Danny's wife Bean. The script itself is peppered with some good frank dialogue, but the plot is somewhat uninvolving and peters out towards the end.

    I give it 2.5 stars, or a grade of C+.
  2. Dave Hackman

    Dave Hackman Stunt Coordinator

    Jan 11, 2000
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    What a quirky refreshing glimpse at an oversexed worn out hit man on the verge of a complete meltdown. Pierce Brosnan plays Julian Noble an aging facilitator of death who has nearly hit every young woman in town and who is in dire need of some rest and mental stimulation. He meets a Denver salesman by the name of Danny Wright (Greg Kinnear) who is in town with his partner on business trying to land a much-needed contract. Together they form an awkward friendship built at first on intrigue and later by something more.

    Brosnan is eccentrically unique with his characters many oddball mannerisms as the bond image disappears completely to leave a very jovial twisted soul that never seems to disclose his true motives. This makes for a fun watch if you don’t mind being entertained by a real loon for almost 2 hours. Greg Kinnear is more fun then I thought and he really begins to act equally crazy when his character takes on attributes of Julian. I love Kinnear’s wife (Hope Davis) who just seems to be a fuck, fuck, fucking hoot when it comes to meeting the man her husband has told her so much about.

    The colors in this movie just pop off the screen and the sound effects, which are used sparingly, are loud and dynamic.

    Weird is good

    Remake is bad

  3. RyanAn

    RyanAn Screenwriter

    Jun 5, 2004
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    I saw it last night and was left with a mixed reaction... It seemed like the this dark comedy tried to make it out to more than what it was. I liked the majority of the film, but I felt that Julian was not as likeable as they wanted you to think he was and Danny's actions did not suit what I thought he should have done at the races.

    Like Dave said, the colors are crazy in this movie... Set mostly in Mexico, the use of vibrant colors really look nice. They mesh really well with the crazy antics of Julian, with my personal favorite scene being the pool scene. I loved the various panning of different countries and locations, it was definately a quick way to go about things.

    It's late, and I'll have to think more on the movie. Right now I would give it a B-.

  4. Quentin

    Quentin Cinematographer

    Feb 4, 2002
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    Los Angeles
    Real Name:
    Quentin H
    I'll go with a B+.

    Brosnan is REALLY good in this film. Always keeping the audience on edge - should you like/care about him? Is he an ass? Will he turn? Will he melt down? Great stuff.

    Kinnear and Davis are pretty funny.

    It's a low budget actors piece, so there's not a whole lot of story here...but, it makes up for it with character. PLENTY of that.
  5. Jason Hughes

    Jason Hughes Supporting Actor

    Oct 17, 1998
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    Real Name:
    Jason Hughes
    "I look like a Bangkok hooker on a Sunday morning after the Navy has left town."

    Loved the movie. Loved all of Julians lines, his little facial expressions. Seen it twice now. Definetly one that grows on you...
  6. Scott_MacD

    Scott_MacD Supporting Actor

    May 13, 2001
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    The Matador - [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    The Matador is an uncommon entertainment, and "as serious as an erection problem!" It is both skilfully written about it's two mismatched characters, their strangely touching friendship and for sheer disgraceful entertainment value. One of the many pleasures of the film is the manner in which it mixes the pulpy ideas - the One Last Hit, the Buddy Movie, into something that feels fresh. Director Richard Shepard has a knack for surprise and pulling visual, verbal and storytelling ideas from thin air.

    Pierce Brosnan plays Julian Noble, a burned-out hitman pulling a few last jobs for his omnipotent and unnamed employers. The first scene sets the tone, it involves raiding his hooker's handbag for nail-polish, further reinforced later in strutting through a hotel in nothing but a pair of knee-high cowboy boots ("Pierce's idea" assured Shepard) and black Speedos. His sense of humour is deliciously rustic and rude - with the choice cuts being a hilarious hatful of Asian whore jokes.

    Noble is cocky to a fault, unkempt, immature - he thinks nothing of dishing out schoolyard insults before a very public execution. He's also sexed-up on whatever comes around - male or female. When told that "margharitas taste better in Mexico", he immediately quips "Yes, margharitas and cock." 007 would doubtlessly disapprove.

    He meets failing businessman Danny Wright (Greg Kinnear) in a superbly sterile hotel bar in Mexico. Slightly the worse for wear, Julian strikes up a conversation with Danny. They both appreciate each other's company. They talk about families, and Danny opens up about his son's recent death. Julian immediately starts telling a filthy joke - and the insulted Danny walks away. It's the flowering moment in the movie, probably the first time that Julian has ever properly shared time, or even friendship with anyone - and regrets flubbing it. They meet again the day after - Danny demands an apology, and he gets a sincere one, and an invitation to a bullfight. The matadors embody flamboyance, agility, skill and brutality - and Julian appreciates their ethics.

    This sets up the relationship that they'll have for the rest of the film, Julian eventually reveals his occupation - a "facilitator of fatalities." Intrigued, Danny asks that he prove it by discussing how he would murder a rich-looking man with bodyguards. This leads into the showpiece scene of the movie, a visual dissertation of how to get away with murder. It's both breakneck fast, and much funnier than you'd think.

    This is Pierce Brosnan's best performance - and he relishes the freeing combination of comedy and acting that the role offers him. His career thus far reminds us of an inverse Bill Murray, a serious actor and icon turned sad clown. His self-loathing hitman discovering sentimentality is magnetic, and yet the audience never quite feels safe in his company. Kinnear plays the role he's forever destined to play, the straight-man, keeping one foot in reality.

    Later in the movie, Julian turns up at Danny's home, and meets his wife (Hope Davis, in a great comedy performance) even charming and dancing with her to and in "the Small Hours o' Morning". This has the delightful feel of situation comedy, with the alarming threat of his prior womanisation and job. Danny fitfully explains to his wife "for an assassin, he's very nice!". It's a knife-edge scene, neither over nor underplayed and gets a solid return on our investments in the characters.

    Director of photography David Tattersall (Die Another Day, the Star Wars prequels) uses his visual skill to create a constantly engaging visual design, keeping the camera an integral part of the movie's energetic flow, from interesting angles. A particular sequence describing Julian's mental breakdown works beautifully, from the fish-eye lens keeping a freaked-out Brosnan in the foreground with the background also kept in solid-focus, to a floor-height shot of him in a pile of donkey shit. He makes excellent use of the locations, using the $10m budget effectively.

    It's hard not to be entertained, even impressed with The Matador. It neatly sidelines genre dictation, in much the way that Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang avoided and embraced the cliches of hard-boiled detective stories and film noir. It devotes time and effort to it's characterisation, and rewards it in a pay-off of surprising pathos.
  7. JasonB

    JasonB Agent

    Jan 28, 1999
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    I completely agree. I absolutely loved this film. Exceptional performances by Kinnear and Brosnan. I was really impressed with Brosnan and his performance. Easily one of the best movies that I've seen so far this year. Highly recommended!

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