Friday, March 11, 2011

#80: The Matador

There has to be such a thing as the 'Curse of James Bond'. It's almost certain that once you play James Bond on-screen you are not going to be remembered for much else. For instance, in my friends circle I am yet to meet anyone who can name a non-Bond movie that a Timothy Dalton or a Roger Moore has done. We know Daniel Craig more for Casino Royale than La4er Cake- a movie that's as good as any Bond movie can aspire to be. Sean Connery could be the only borderline exception to this and yet somehow the moment I think of Sean Connery I imagine the Dr. No poster in my head. Not so much The Untouchables or The Hunt for Red October. I can't judge by what Pierce Brosnan has done so far as to whether he's got the wrong end of the curse but what we can vouch for sure is that the man sure tries to keep his roles as different as possible.

The Matador is a movie that released in 2005- three years after Brosnan's last 007 role in Die Another Day. He plays hitman Julian Noble and over an innocuous conversation in the company of dos margaritas in Mexico makes friends with businessman Danny Wright at a bar (Greg Kinnear). Both men are on a mission- one to kill and one to close a deal. Julian is going through a mid-life crisis. He's made no friends over the past few years when he's globe trotting assassinating people and finds an emotional comfort in the company of Danny. Danny on the other hand has started a new business and is anxious about how it will pan out. The men seperate from the Mexico meeting and the next we see is Julian landing up at Danny's doorstep after a few months. This time he wants family man Danny's help for one last job. Will the plain jane Danny be his accomplice in a cold-blooded murder? One can't say whether The Matador makes the answer to that question interesting enough for a watch.

It is the kind of movie that is almost there. It is almost stylish and the performances by Kinnear and Brosnan almost make it worth it. Although, one must commend Brosnan for his casual killer turn. Kinnear, as the docile submissive friend, is only repeating what we've seen him in movies like As Good As it Gets before.

Writer-director Richard Shepard actually gets the right sort of ingredients in The Matador to get a cracker of a movie going but doesn't get the mix right. If you were to choose a good buddy-bonding-over-a-crime kind of movie, you have better choices out there. Leave aside QT here-that man is from another planet in this genre-I am thinking something like In Bruges. The problem with the Matador is that it can't decide for itself whether it wants to be a crime thriller or a comedy. In trying to achieve a balance of both, it manages neither. It's a respectable effort nonetheless. But it did lose on that chance to become an admirable one.


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