The Matador is a tiny little film that will be no more than a ripple in the giant vortex that is the winter movie season. It’s not a bad little movie any more than it’s a good one; it inspires neither love nor hate. Greg Kinnear and Pierce Brosnan do their damdest to wring every bit of story out of The Matador but in the end it ends up feeling very small. Small like the list of Director/Screenwriter Richard Sheperd’s hits (in this case small means non existent). He must have really sold this movie to get heavyweights like Kinnear and Brosnan involved so kudos there.
The Matador is the story of Brosnan as professional hitman Julian Noble who befriends a down on his luck business man at a swanky hotel in South America. Danny Wright (Greg Kinnear) has fallen on hard times and finds the risk and spirit of derring-do in the assassin both refreshing and appalling. For all of you who thought I’d never get to use “derring-do” in a review, in your face pals. Brosnan and Kinnear have decent chemistry, not to the level of Brokeback Mountain or anything, but adequate enough for your average Friday night blind date. They seem like actual friends and Kinnear seems like any normal fellow who’s befriended an assassin. He’s fascinated and concerned at the same time. This material has been tread upon, with much more cleverness in Grosse Point Blank. It is occasionally fun to see the former James Bond stretch himself a bit as a remorseless killer. Unfortunately it’s not so fun that you forget the film doesn’t really go anywhere.
The problems with The Matador start about the midpoint when you look at your watch, cell phone or portable sundial. The story is set up with a “six months later” style second act which is supposed to act as the suspense behind this drama. Brosnan, a self proclaimed “facilitator of fatalities” has things go bad for his own business and turns to his only friend. I’m going to stop talking about the plot now just in case you are headed out to the theater to see The Matador. Call it my holiday gift to you.
At the end of the day this film doesn’t have enough point to make up for the fact that it’s not really engaging or funny. The Matador is played for absurd laughs every once in a while but mostly it tries to get you interested in the guys themselves. Normally these two would be pretty interesting, if you met them at a cocktail party or something, but here the story they are engaged in is a bit of a snoozer. This isn’t Kinnear or Brosnan’s fault and I’m not holding any grudges. They did the best they could with limited source material.
The Matador feels like a rental to me. It doesn’t have huge effects or a “wow” plot so I’d put it on the bench for now. Feliz Navidad.
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