Review: THE MATADOR (R)

Pierce Brosnan and Greg Kinnear.

By STEPHEN EARNEST / June 17, 2011

The Matador isn’t overly exciting, but it’s got enough style and originality to make it an enjoyable and worthwhile film.

Englishman Pierce Brosnan stars as Julian Noble, a lone hitman experiencing a mid-life crisis and in desperate need of a friend. At a bar in Mexico City, he encounters businessman Danny Wright (Greg Kinnear), whose in town on a business venture. The two spark a conversation and eventually, a friendship is formed. The next day, Julian invites Danny Wright to go and see a bullfight with him.

At the bullfight, Julian unveils to Danny his true line of work, to which Danny is skeptical at first. But Julian quickly proves that he isn’t lying by taking Danny through the steps of murdering someone, using a portly patron as an example.

A short time later, Julian asks for Danny’s assistance in helping him “facilitate a fatality”, which essentially means “execute” someone. Danny is very much against the idea and two split up. Later that night, Julian shows up at Danny’s hotel room, apologizing. The screen fades to black and we pick up six months later. Now, if you don’t think that’s an adequate plot summary, don’t worry: neither do I. The Matador doesn’t have a proper storyline like most films. That’s one of the reasons why it’s so original.

Possibly the most attractive feature here is the lead performance from Pierce Brosnan, who generates such a likable character that it’s next to impossible to find the film boring, even if you don’t like anything else. Brosnan is just so exuberant and funny and charismatic. His Golden Globe nomination was well-deserved.

The Matador gets even better the second time around. It’s so simple and low-key but so well-made. It’s got a good head on its shoulders (director Richard Shepard) and becomes so increasingly inventive that I remained entertained for the time being. That’s more than what I can say about most summer blockbusters. And it’s funny. Darkly funny, at that.

It’s a great little buddy film and has that kind of style I wish more films nowadays had.

RATING: 3/4

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